England v South Africa, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's, 4th day August 19, 2012

South Africa close in on No. 1 Test ranking

243

England 315 and 16 for 2 (Trott 6*, Bell 4*) need 330 more runs to beat South Africa 309 and 351 (Amla 121, Finn 4-60)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The plotting has been going on for years, the final campaign got underway at The Oval a month ago, but the phase when South Africa truly believed that they were about to go top of the Test rankings, and displace England in the process, lasted a matter of 13 overs in the polite atmosphere of a Lord's Test Sunday evening.

In that time, England, faced by what for them would be a record fourth-innings run chase of 346 to win the final Test at Lord's and level the series, lost Alastair Cook and their captain Andrew Strauss to limp to the close of the fourth day at 15 for 2.

Vernon Philander found inswing with the new ball to dismiss both England openers lbw, leaving Cook motionless and Strauss strokeless. Any captain can be forgiven an error of judgment after spending much of the past month wondering how England would ever bowl South Africa out, but his passive exit felt like the official concession of a series.

England need another 329 runs at about 3.6 runs an over on a fifth-day pitch when the average score in this Test has been below three. They must also do it against a South Africa pace attack which has proved itself the best in the world, marshalled by a captain, Graeme Smith, whose fortitude is surely about to be rewarded. They must also do it without the potential for the extraordinary that Kevin Pietersen occasionally brings. It is a big ask for team spirit and unity.

England's bowlers must feel mentally and physically battered, relieved perhaps that this was not a five-Test series. In the opening scene of the Coen brothers' movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? , a chain gang in 1930s Mississipi is seen breaking rocks while singing Po Lazarus, a negro spiritual song. Bowling at South Africa throughout this series has left England's badly in need of a melody or two as they have repeatedly foundered on the array of boulders that constitute South Africa's batting line-up.

Hashim Amla's unyielding 121 in South Africa's second-innings 351 condemned England on what began as London's hottest day of the year to a disheartening experience on a sedate and comparatively reliable pitch of chipping away against rock with the sensation that balls and chains were around their feet.

No team has chased down 345 to win a Test at Lord's - although the 1984 West Indians did rampage to 344 for 1 thanks to a double century by Gordon Greenidge, a man who as the Negro spiritual observes about Po Lazarus, took some arresting.

Amla was 57 overnight and when he back-cut Jonathan Trott to reach his hundred in the first full over of the afternoon - Trott bowling because the second new ball was only two overs away - it was his first boundary of the day. He dealt in placement, a batsman of immense certainty and subtlety.

That England could retain any hope of victory as the day progressed owed much to Steven Finn. Just when it looked as if South Africa were bound for safety at 259 for 4, a lead of 253, he produced a pre-tea spell of 3 for 19 in seven overs, including the vital wicket of Amla for 121, to keep depression at bay.

Finn does not strike you as a man much given to spiritual songs - he does not even look as if he would make much of a fist of karaoke - but once Stuart Broad and James Anderson had taken that new ball to no avail, he was introduced into the attack and plotted England's last, desperate attempt to escape.

In the first innings, he cut one back to bowl Amla through the gate, this time he straightened one to bowl him past the outside edge. AB de Villiers was unhinged by a ball that bounced and left him, giving Strauss, at first slip, his 121st catch, a record for an England outfielder, taking him beyond Ian Botham and Colin Cowdrey. Jacques Rudolph, a left-hander attacked from around the wicket, edged another ball that held its line and edged to the wicketkeeper.

Finn had taken four wickets in the first innings, but he had struggled for rhythm, just as he had in the second Test at Headingley, his habit of nudging the stumps with his knees at the bowler's end not helping his state of mind.

At Lord's, his home ground, his presence returned, as did his ability to leave the righthander. He bowled well from the start of the day, as if he recognised that this was England's final opportunity, and a slim opportunity at that, and the urgency of the situation made him remember what he was: a fast bowler.

But Philander struck out successfully for the second time in the match, impressing on England that Amla's century had all but settled the series. Amla had been missed on 2 down the leg side by Matt Prior the previous day, his first drop standing back for two years, and he made England suffer. His consummate response to all that England's offspinner, Graeme Swann, could throw at him, was a major indication of South Africa's authority.

England made their task more difficult with another blemish in the field. Anderson's fumble, diving forward to intercept a simple catch at short midwicket off Swann left the batsman, de Villiers, on 8, looking on in wonder. Strauss also missed a very difficult chance at slip, also off Swann, when Duminy, on 4, carved at the offspinner and the ball struck Strauss on the wrist at pace. England needed to accept every opportunity going.

It took England another 17.2 overs after tea to remove South Africa's last three wickets. Philander's dismissal for a spirited 35 owed much to good fortune as Anderson overbalanced slightly in footholes that have troubled him periodically throughout the match and delivered a wide long hop which Philander carved to Jonny Bairstow at backward point.

Morne Morkel fell to a smart piece of wicketkeeping from Prior who waited for his back foot to lift in the air momentarily before removing the bails. Anderson cleaned up Imran Tahir to the roars of the Lord's crowd, the fourth successive full house, for whom hope sprang eternal.

Before lunch, South Africa lost only the nightwatchman Steyn - not much more than a pebble as South African batting rocks go. Treated to a barrage of short balls, he had been struck on the top hand the previous evening and suffered another blow in the same spot from Finn.

He clung on gamely for nearly nine overs until Broad produced a rearing delivery which he could only lob gently to James Taylor at short leg. And, as for the injury, it was not even his bowling hand.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • zenboomerang on August 21, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    @JG2704... At a complete loss to your reply on my post on Bairstow & Prior (for which I posted before they batted & was correct - yet find no Eng fan did the same)... What has KP got to do with this Test match?... Re: KP - do, you believe inuendo rather than facts?... As I will repeat again, I am not a KP fan & would rather he never played against Oz ever again - send him to pergatory for all I care but do not exclude a few Test players & friends that also deserve the same castration... PS: nothing personal, just seems England have either a love or hate attitude to KP while all I am asking for is fairness to all cricketers... Sitting up with a grandkid with glandular fever atm, so not in the best moods... Sorry...

  • JG2704 on August 21, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    @ zenboomerang on (August 20 2012, 09:45 AM GMT) Indeed sour grapes ,. The ODI series is just for pride. Re KP - He was out for a 1st baller yesterday so even had he played his state of mind might not have been there anyway. On Sky News they were interviewing various fans at the Surrey ground and it seems rumour has it that KP was texting SA players advice on tactics , how to bowl to certain players etc .. I wonder - if true - if the KP fans would still be ok with that? - sadly I think they would

  • Wallaroo on August 21, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    Well done South Africa on a deserved victory and no. 1 ranking. Looking forward to the tests in November.

  • Wallaroo on August 21, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    @Hammond - You can't hate the cricket team and love the country, being passionate about our sports teams is an intrinsic part of being Australian. Re your comment about our cricketers being unAustralian, you must be kidding.Being passionate and confident is very Australian and why Australia has been so successful despite "your" cricket teams homeland leaving our ancestors here to rot.

  • Meety on August 21, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh - LOL!!!! Should do a people swap!

  • SuperSharky on August 20, 2012, 17:34 GMT

    Congratulations Graeme Smith, Gary Kirsten, Allan Donald & Co for taking your country to number one! This was a brilliant Test Series and great cricket from both countries. It's a pity these two nations doesn't play each other more often. It was also a great fightback from England in the last Test. Thrilling to see how Prior, Swann and Bairstow went all-out with a Graeme Gooch and Andy Flower approach. And another nerve wrecking Test finish like that Test at The Wanderers last year 21st Nov, where Ponting scored a valuable 62 and Mitchel Johnson and Pat Cummins took Australia to a narrow victory, after their demolishing Cape Town defeat, to level the series against the Proteas. Now for the ODI's that will start Friday. I don't think it can match-up to this exciting Test series, but 'm sure the Proteas would love to take revenge after reminding them of their last 5-0 whitewash ODI defeat against England in England.

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 16:45 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh.. I don't hate my country, just the cricket team which has been the epitome of unAustralian arrogance for too many years. England have been a far more satisfying team to follow.

  • DeathKnell on August 20, 2012, 16:28 GMT

    Good teasing death.. absolutely loved it.. well done Saffas, you put them where they belong....told earlier, that Eng should have let SAffas bat for a little more time to avoid this humiliating 0-2 at home...anyway thats destiny/ last ditch effort...more coming their way downhill....hundreds of posts from the keyboard warriors? whats up now?.. someone asked spelling for C-H-O-K-E in one of the posts, here we go.. it is H-Y-P-E, I repeat, H for Horrendously Y for Yukky P for Poms E for England...it is hightime the fans, media, players, commentators & all eng cricket units took things graciously (win or defeat). bragging, disrespecting legends and all kinds of arrogance will be tamed sooner or later....history repeats, we saw Aus going down (though at least they had some legacy for 10+ yrs) and now Eng....I though pity for the Gentleman Strauss...sad that he could nt contribute in his big test..well I wish him & team all the best to come back & politely & strongly...

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 20, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    Yep, Hammond, born & bred tru-blue 100% Aussie. Thankfully, you're the only Aussie I know who hates his country, feels ashamed to live here, so forth ad nauseum. Simple solution, hop a boat & emigrate to ENG, I'm sure they'll take you with open arms. Then it's a win/win situation for all concerned. But you're already there!!!!

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh- mate seriously, I have a births deaths and marriages certificate that says I was born in Darlinghurst in 1976. I have an Aussie passport and I've never lived anywhere else. Why can't people just accept that I go for England?

  • zenboomerang on August 21, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    @JG2704... At a complete loss to your reply on my post on Bairstow & Prior (for which I posted before they batted & was correct - yet find no Eng fan did the same)... What has KP got to do with this Test match?... Re: KP - do, you believe inuendo rather than facts?... As I will repeat again, I am not a KP fan & would rather he never played against Oz ever again - send him to pergatory for all I care but do not exclude a few Test players & friends that also deserve the same castration... PS: nothing personal, just seems England have either a love or hate attitude to KP while all I am asking for is fairness to all cricketers... Sitting up with a grandkid with glandular fever atm, so not in the best moods... Sorry...

  • JG2704 on August 21, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    @ zenboomerang on (August 20 2012, 09:45 AM GMT) Indeed sour grapes ,. The ODI series is just for pride. Re KP - He was out for a 1st baller yesterday so even had he played his state of mind might not have been there anyway. On Sky News they were interviewing various fans at the Surrey ground and it seems rumour has it that KP was texting SA players advice on tactics , how to bowl to certain players etc .. I wonder - if true - if the KP fans would still be ok with that? - sadly I think they would

  • Wallaroo on August 21, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    Well done South Africa on a deserved victory and no. 1 ranking. Looking forward to the tests in November.

  • Wallaroo on August 21, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    @Hammond - You can't hate the cricket team and love the country, being passionate about our sports teams is an intrinsic part of being Australian. Re your comment about our cricketers being unAustralian, you must be kidding.Being passionate and confident is very Australian and why Australia has been so successful despite "your" cricket teams homeland leaving our ancestors here to rot.

  • Meety on August 21, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh - LOL!!!! Should do a people swap!

  • SuperSharky on August 20, 2012, 17:34 GMT

    Congratulations Graeme Smith, Gary Kirsten, Allan Donald & Co for taking your country to number one! This was a brilliant Test Series and great cricket from both countries. It's a pity these two nations doesn't play each other more often. It was also a great fightback from England in the last Test. Thrilling to see how Prior, Swann and Bairstow went all-out with a Graeme Gooch and Andy Flower approach. And another nerve wrecking Test finish like that Test at The Wanderers last year 21st Nov, where Ponting scored a valuable 62 and Mitchel Johnson and Pat Cummins took Australia to a narrow victory, after their demolishing Cape Town defeat, to level the series against the Proteas. Now for the ODI's that will start Friday. I don't think it can match-up to this exciting Test series, but 'm sure the Proteas would love to take revenge after reminding them of their last 5-0 whitewash ODI defeat against England in England.

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 16:45 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh.. I don't hate my country, just the cricket team which has been the epitome of unAustralian arrogance for too many years. England have been a far more satisfying team to follow.

  • DeathKnell on August 20, 2012, 16:28 GMT

    Good teasing death.. absolutely loved it.. well done Saffas, you put them where they belong....told earlier, that Eng should have let SAffas bat for a little more time to avoid this humiliating 0-2 at home...anyway thats destiny/ last ditch effort...more coming their way downhill....hundreds of posts from the keyboard warriors? whats up now?.. someone asked spelling for C-H-O-K-E in one of the posts, here we go.. it is H-Y-P-E, I repeat, H for Horrendously Y for Yukky P for Poms E for England...it is hightime the fans, media, players, commentators & all eng cricket units took things graciously (win or defeat). bragging, disrespecting legends and all kinds of arrogance will be tamed sooner or later....history repeats, we saw Aus going down (though at least they had some legacy for 10+ yrs) and now Eng....I though pity for the Gentleman Strauss...sad that he could nt contribute in his big test..well I wish him & team all the best to come back & politely & strongly...

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 20, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    Yep, Hammond, born & bred tru-blue 100% Aussie. Thankfully, you're the only Aussie I know who hates his country, feels ashamed to live here, so forth ad nauseum. Simple solution, hop a boat & emigrate to ENG, I'm sure they'll take you with open arms. Then it's a win/win situation for all concerned. But you're already there!!!!

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh- mate seriously, I have a births deaths and marriages certificate that says I was born in Darlinghurst in 1976. I have an Aussie passport and I've never lived anywhere else. Why can't people just accept that I go for England?

  • Jim1207 on August 20, 2012, 13:36 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge: Well, please get down from your high horses at least now. Non-English supporters, especially Indians, are posting like that not because they were humiliated but because the English media and ex-cricketers talked too much too bad about Indian cricketers struggling in England. India lost 0-4 in England, not England on verge of losing 0-2 at home, nothing much differs both results. English fans and media need to have more humility (applies to Indians as well), can we just stop trash-talking each other and stop here? Cricket would be healthier to discuss so. At least from now onwards, fans could learn to be modest in their comments like each of their players do when they lose badly.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 20, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    @Hammond, I've had to seriously tame my response down, it seems the PC Cricinfo moderators won't post them otherwise. Lets face the facts - you are not an Aussie, you are a Pommy, pure & simple!! I remember before the series started but especially after the 1st test massacre, 99% of ENG fans harped on about how they deserved the #1 ranking, it was theirs & they had earned it. Fair enough; so AUS are ranked #2 by that same process, yet we are bog average. ENG were far better than us in the 2010/11 series, but that was almost 2 years ago. Since then, AUS has begun the torturous rebuilding process; your mob, since attaining the #1 crown, have had a serious case of performance anxiety (make that a terminal case). You have begun the slide down the rankings, and if you want to bury your head in the sand, well & good. As for IND, much different prospect at home, can't wait for them to trounce you. As for how AUS fare against the Saffers, it'll be tough, but we have a good record vs SA.

  • Big_Poppa_94 on August 20, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    Lol India held on their number one status far longer than England. Two years to be precise. Had SA thrashed NZ (?) 3 nil, then England wouldn't even have been #1 at the start of this series. In fact, they wouldn't have been #1 when playing WI lol.

  • Big_Poppa_94 on August 20, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    @Hammond: LOL No way will England beat India on their home turf. They may be without Dravid and Laxman, but they still got quality in their batting.

    Oh and well ALL know England are pathetic against spin bowling. Whilst I admit the recent tours against England and Australia were terrible; over all India have done pretty well overseas. That was an ageing side. The departures of Dravid and Laxman will allow the youngsters to stake their claim.

    England have NOT won a series in India for like nearly 20 years amirite?

    LOL India actually won in England in 2007. Our current record isn't that bad if you take away England 2011 and Australia 2011/12.

    If the mighty Australia of old that had Warne and co couldn't beat India in India; then you really expect England to beat India?

    LOL Get a grip son. The last time India lost a series at home was in 2004.

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 12:35 GMT

    I've had so much joy watching England since back in 2003 when Martin Bicknell bowled England to victory in the fifth test, even my Scottish wife was cheering the boys on. I've been up (2005) and down (2006) and everything in between ever since. If any of you England boys read this, then know that this is one Aussie that will follow you to the end, I love watching you blokes play, the technical quality and excellence of your batsman and the fiery fast bowlers and since Swann came along, exemplary slow bowling. A salute from a die-hard (Aussie) English cricket supporter.

  • reality_check27 on August 20, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    comeon hammond wake up england hasnt beaten india in india more tha 25 years now. And forget about them last 8 years no team has been able to do that which i cant say fro england as they have lost to south africa twice because ur going to lose this one as well and india once in at home in england and nobody can beat india in india . dont forget the whitewash against pakistan

  • Selassie-I on August 20, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    2 good things have come from this series for England, Stevie Finn and Jonny Bairstow... certainly bright lights for the future. SA have completley outplayed us so no complaints there. Hopefully we play closer to our potential in the ODIs.

  • Pappu1992 on August 20, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    My god..England in India have a awful record..And English men saying England ll beat India in India..The world champions ll make u see wat they are all about..!!And england cant beat SA in their own backyard.Shows they dont deserve no 1 ranking!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on August 20, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    Posted by Crick.lover on (August 20 2012, 10:12 AM GMT) Why is it that most non-English bloggers on this site dislike the England team?

    It's because England inflicted whitewashes and series defeats so humiliating on those fans that they feel forever bitter about it. Which speaks volumes about how they truly feel about England. We take it as a compliment.

  • Cricketolympian on August 20, 2012, 12:06 GMT

    Hi bloggers,I am a South African who has been visiting your fabulous country for the last six weeks with my son, going back home at the end of this test match.Been to the Olympics, saw a Premiership game and have been to both London Test matches.Every single place i have visited has been packed and the fans have been warm,friendly and so well informed, they really love their sport here and the facilities and transport facilities have been world class. Lord Cricket ground is the greatest cricket ground in the world,i travel round the world to watch the Saffers play and i am so glad that i went to the Mecca of cricket,fantastic. As for this series; its been very closely by two fantastic teams both of these teams could form a World XI,their fitness and athleticism has been a joy to behold! I strongly believe that thanks to England, my beloved Test Cricket (the ultimate form of the game)would be dead. Barmy Army,your the best fans in the world.See you again in 4 years

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 11:55 GMT

    C'mon Trotty- see us home.

  • soham1303 on August 20, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    You will fail to do either. And without Pietersen-god help you.

  • on August 20, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    You will fail to do either .

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 11:49 GMT

    And the TAB odds on an England win just keep dropping ;)

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    @Crick.lover- yes there was one nation more obsessed with being number one in the world, it's called Australia. And if you've read any Sydney newspaper you would know what I mean.

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    @rickyvoncanterbury- mate I can't say it enough times. I am born and bred in Western Sydney, NSW, Australia. Nothing English about me. Even my ancestors aren't English, they are Irish.

  • Big_Poppa_94 on August 20, 2012, 11:15 GMT

    India will win their home series against England. By what margin, is uncertain. England will definitely be licking their wounds from this (and presumably if they lose their T20 crown). That means they will go to India with something to prove.

    Now the one thing India don't have his are Dravid and Laxman. The legendary middle order is now close to just folklore. But India still have some gem batters like Virat Kohli, who scored his debut Test Century in Australia. So these Indian batter friendly pitches will help Kohli, whose coincidentally having a great 2012. Add Sehwag (who can take games away in just one session), Gambhir, Tendulkar, Dhoni etc then it doesn't seem all bad.

    Even though Rohit Sharma doesn't deserve it, he should get at least ONE test to prove himself. A last chance saloon. I'd give Pujara, Tiwary etc chances too. Oh and Yuvraj will be back too hopefully.

    Now England have quality batting too, but India will edge it out because of better spin attack.

    Please post this

  • Naresh28 on August 20, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    All those Oz/Eng fans that mocked INDIA on recent tours - look whats happenning now. As I said before you win some and you lose some. SA are at the top at the moment. No 1 status is now lost by Eng. It happens its only a game. How well u perform on that day is what counts. England are currently 48/4 trying to save the game.

  • DeathKnell on August 20, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    I know some keyboards warriors would decry and say that Eng managed a 5 day finish... but all others know that the game was over on 4th day (or even earlier).. first death knell was on 3rd day when Amla punched a couple of 4s on the last over of Broad and the second was on 4th day when Philander knocked a couple of wkts in the last few overs...well to all who might be wondering whats happening at Lords, at this moment.. it is called Great Grand British Circus... can u imagine someone (Taylor) getting a) run-out b) for the 4th run c) when Eng are 3 down d) and when they have 300+ runs to chase...ROFL...can it be any better on a Monday

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    The other thing is we held onto number one longer than South Africa did when they had it. And we can and will get back there again (after we beat India and annihilate Australia)..

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh- good luck with your delusions of grandeur regarding the bog average Aussie side. South Africa is coming and if they are better than England (as this series tells us) then they are lightyears ahead of your talentless rabble.

  • rickyvoncanterbury on August 20, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    So Hammond your Indian then.

  • DeathKnell on August 20, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    @cheguramana - good one mate.. but you know Mike (Michael Holding) was always cutting them to size.. I have to appreciate when he was spot on with this comments about the Eng's position, when people like Botham was always trying to push his (Eng's) perspective of winning the game... all said & done, I think the best they (team) could have done is to let SA go on with runs and allow Smith (who is bit defensive) to declare and hence buy time to avoid a loss (it is always better to bat 60-70 overs than to bat 105 overs)....every cheer on getting a SA wicket is backfiring Eng...

  • raj_24 on August 20, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    those thinking India will beat Eng 4-0 it is foolish and wishful thinking

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 20, 2012, 10:30 GMT

    The writing is on the wall (has been for a long time), the fat lady's begun warming up her vocal chords, and the Saffers are sharpening their sword for the execution, scheduled at around the mid-point of the 2nd session on day 5. @bouncedout, I think you'll find that as soon as the Saffers defeat you 2-0 (as in later today), they go to #1, ENG drop back to #3, and AUS stay at #2. That would make your statement null & void, because we'll already be officially recognised as a better team than ENG (rankings will reflect that). AUS have been steadily improving in the last 12-moths, managed a 1-1 draw in SA as well. Over the last 12 months, ENG have done nuthin (we also won 2-0 in WI, before you bring up the 2-0 win at home against them). As for MJ, a decent bowler on his day, but they were too few. Still, check his stats, identical to Anderson except for the number of tests played. It was the ENG press that over-hyped your mob, and you fans bought into that Dynasty tripe. Not our fault!!!!

  • NkosiEcosse on August 20, 2012, 10:26 GMT

    With a present run rate of 1.83 I don't see England getting enough runs to win this. Seems like they are quite content not to lose the test.And they have just lost Bell as well, waiting to see who is coming in? Taylor, wonder how long he will last?

  • disco_bob on August 20, 2012, 10:26 GMT

    Oh poor sportsmanship from Smith, it's against the spirit of the game to juggle the ball and catch it on the second attempt.

  • dariuscorny on August 20, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    @Peter Moon,dont try to kid man,do you really think Cummins can stand 1 test,i seriously doubt that,Hilfenhous ,pattinson did trouble Indian line up but that was ageing one,look every body almost retired.so Aus dont hv the class in bowling and its better not to talk about their batting....England underperfoming doesnt make Aus look great,infact they are the weakest

  • Crick.lover on August 20, 2012, 10:12 GMT

    Why is it that most non-English bloggers on this site dislike the England team?? If we look back before this test series started and see how arrogant the fans were about the ability of the players, and man for man, how superior every Eng player over the corresponding SA player was supposed to be, we can start to see why! On top of that (and be honest now) has any other nation been so obsessed about the no.1 status as the Eng players, fans and media?? Every interview, comment about cricket in the newspapers, on the radio and TV HAS to mention the fact that Eng are No.1. It is by time this is put in perspective and perhaps they can worry about playing the game rather than their status.

  • dhchdh on August 20, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    Its about to get worse...bet the Indians are itching for revenge...by the end of the year england will be no 4 or 5 after a 4-0 drubbing in the subcontinent.

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    By the way I still feel that Trotty will see England through. Keep calm and Trott on :)

  • Hammond on August 20, 2012, 9:58 GMT

    Either way I'm proud of England, coming back after such a stomping in the first test. These last two tests have been glorious cricketing spectacles. Although all the stats say that England have been completely outplayed by a very, very good South African side, it hasn't always looked like that on the field. Thanks England for being a team I can be proud of, unlike that rabble that I was born with and unfortunately share nationality with.

  • CSKftw on August 20, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    @no.1_multicultural_team The reason why nobody gave a hoot about the no1 rank until few years ago is because Australia were so dominant in all forms of Cricket that their rank was way higher than the others who had no hope of usurping them. Personally I started to lose interest in Cricket altogether because it was boring to watch the same team dominating the rankings for so long and winning multiple world cups on a trot. It's actually good for the game and us fans that there is no "true" no1 team who can beat every teaml in any condition. Of course we all want our teams to be as dominant as Australia and the old WI but speaking from a purely neutral perspective I think it's more exciting to watch teams constantly competing and replacing each other as the world no.1, it's a healthy sign for world Cricket.

  • Clutch on August 20, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    well the weather forecast says it should overcast morning giving way to sunshine later in the day. Just what the bowlers would have wanted and should make teh ball move a little longer into the morning. Hopefully Saffers will have this wrapped up towards tea, but cricket is a funny old game.

    A lot of talk about the #1 status and i agree that SA deserve to be the new number 1 ranked team based on results.

    what is interesting is what the future might hold. If the nucleus of this side stays together for a couple more years, they might just get stronger. In Quinton de Kock (SA under19 keeper) they have an exceptional prospect whose glove work is brilliant and who has scored runs in every format of the game he has played sop far.....would love to see him get a chance sometime soon to see if he can cut it at the highest level. Drop Rudolph and bring him in and i think it would actually strengthen the team!

    come on South Africa, end it in style!!

  • zenboomerang on August 20, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    @JG2704 :- "Just being realistic , I don't see it"... Fair call, & in reality the probable outcome - I'm just not one to give in without seeing the fight at least down to the last few bats & the runs required being too much... An optimist to the end :) ... Been impressed with Bairstow recently & Prior is no slouch, so think there are positives yet to come... Also don't like all the gloating by supporters that are not involved with this series, sour grapes come to mind (among others)...

  • on August 20, 2012, 9:44 GMT

    we are poised for an excited end to an intriguing match up between these two great cricketing nations, just hoping for positive cricket from England.

  • DeathKnell on August 20, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    @BravoBravo - use same yardstick...it is for people like you, they have something called records & statistics...Eng became no#1 on EOD 22-Aug-2011, so effectively they have not completed 1 full year, but OK - just to make you happy we can take it as 1 year (or 12 Months) and the prev No#1 holder India was in position for 20 months (Dec-2009 till Jul-2011)....all data as per ICC rankings...

  • TsoroM on August 20, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    SA has dominated England in this series. Morkel certified Strauss as his bunny. Steyn owned Trott. Philander worked Cook, Amla dominated Swann. And comparing the batting man for man, like everyone was doing at the beginning of the series, Smith outdid Strauss as expected. Petersen scored more runs than Cook, Amla scored the number of runs that Trott only saw in his dreams for himself this series. and so the list goes on. Steyn has bowled better than Anderson (and still has a chance to add to his wickets tally). Morkel and Broad are even on the wickets tally so far (obviously Morkel can still add to his tally and has mental edge in terms of being able to dominate Strauss the way he has) even Tahir has taken more wickets that Swann who was supposed to England's trump card this series. SA need deserve to win this test match and this series!

  • bouncedout on August 20, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    @RandyOz

    If Eng are the worst then it does not say much about Aus.

    Where are they in the rankings again? Oh yes, below England as they will be for some time yet.

    You keep supporting your adopted country of SA because it is all you will have to cling to for the next few years.

    Mitchell Johnson "once in a generation bowler" arf arf

  • on August 20, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    well done South Africa!! finally the No 1 Test team.

  • Electric_L0ser_Wacko on August 20, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    @JustOUT - Hmmm, interesting... Please forgive my ignorance - please remind me when was the last time the all conquering south african team even won a test series in india ? Oh i remember now - it was in 1999/2000 when india was at the lowest (just before the match fixing scandal and we were just pummelled by australia away just before that series, it was the same year when we lost 2 tests to pakistan at home well - Then by your rating - Pakistan should also be considered an all conquering team- why isnt it???) You even failed to beat us at your home soil - and yes - we were No1 at that time)..... a little humility is wise just before you reach the top..!!

  • Herbet on August 20, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    England have been poor in this series. Our batsmen have looked soft and our bowlers have been below their best. Our first 4 going into the series, Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and Swann have looked pretty toothless barring one spell from Broad, and badly down on pace. None of the batsmen have shown the capacity for big scores which they have done over the previous 2 years, and have often been undone by very poor shots. South Africa are a good team, very good at just grinding away. They are a horrible team to watch as a supporter of their opponent. Their bowlers, Tahir aside, give you no rest, and their batsmen just nudge away for days on end. Graeme Smith sums them up. He is the most horribly graceless batsmen I have ever seen, but he just won't budge.

  • on August 20, 2012, 9:19 GMT

    No KP no no1 spot for England what ever these senior cricketer say but i know only one thing that England cricket is been saved by two 2 players KP and Flintoff when they won ashes for England in 2005 ....and they are the best cricketers that ever played for England some will argue but its my own opinion ..............so all i want to say is Respect your heroes like KP

  • cricket-is-best on August 20, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    australia and safrica are better overall all-round teams.india n england hav weaknes against fast bowling n spin respectively.england seemed invincible only for a short period during wich they beat australia n india.prior to that they were beaten by india in both earlier tours to england.bt england never cud even dream of beatin india in india in dat period.they are so poor at playin spin in d sub-continent.comparatively india seem to be the better of d two teams.however,coming november they hav a chance to improve,with dravid,laxman gone,sehwag out of his prime.And indian spinners not as effective as earlier.lets see.

  • DeathKnell on August 20, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    Wonderful Prior's great stumping of Morkel brought laurels pouring in & some Gurus were quickly all over the rule book to pacify the audience, how the ball was not dead...but I fail to understand how these rule-masters went to Indian dressing room during the break, to request the resumption of Bell's innings.. I think, then the ball was 10 times livelier than the one in Prior's glove (& also the proximity of the batsmen to the crease)....Sssssppppiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiittttttttt of the game

  • spinyeel on August 20, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    I love the enthusiasm of the Indian fans and their joyful exuberance celebrating England's demise. This same England team thrashed your pitiful former number one pretenders,on the same pitches last year. How bad are the Indian team.Just above Bangladesh at present,maybe.

  • on August 20, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    Hold your horses! Cricket is a funny old game with many twists in the tail. The game is not over until the horizontally challenge lady sings! Hopefully one hour after tea today! On behalf of many South African supporters (not all ofcause but at least a group of friends) I wish to state categorically that the no 1 thing is not the be all for us. We had been there for short periods before and we cannot even remember the periods.What is more important and what we remember is the away series wins against England (in 1965, 2008 and 1935 I think) as well as against Australia (2008/9) and India (1998) and Pakistan (in 1997 and 2007 (?). If we win today, my late father and uncle will be very happy. I still remember as a young boy how sad they were when we somewhat controversially lost the deciding last test and the 5 match series (2-3) at The Oval in 1955. Please Proteas do it today for us. It was a hard fought series, but I feel we did that little bit more to clinch it.

  • cheguramana on August 20, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    Whats with this Commentary team composition ? Not 1 or 2 but 3 of them, all from the host country. We see the same happen in Australia as well. When other teams tour India, we always see at least 1 commentator, at all times, from the touring country. Guys : ESPN or Star Sports or Channel 9 : i dont know who makes these decisions, but pl understand IT DOES NOT MAKE FOR GOOD TV PROGRAMMING !

  • BackOfALength504 on August 20, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    SA to #1 is all that counts to me..Full on Protea

  • on August 20, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    @Grant Noble, agree on the Morkel dismissal. Especially in light of the fact that he never left his crease. He even had both his feet behind the line when Prior first gloved the ball. Pretty poor sportsmanship from Prior I thought. Well i'm sure Morne will get the ball talking back to him today.

  • popcorn on August 20, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    I will say without hesitation that South Africa CURRENTLY deserve the Number One Ranking. As an Aussie, I am looking forward to their next big challenge - aginst us in November, this summer.You may recall they beat us IN Australia in 2008, but we got right back and hammered them in 2009 IN South Africa.

  • Venkat_Super_11 on August 20, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    Hats off, David Hopps. As always, your article clearly underlines England's problems and double standards. "It is a big ask for team spirit and unity. " was a wonderful statement to make.

  • Pablo123 on August 20, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    Yeah, this BIG hurdle out of the way - Can't wait for the series against the Ausies later this year. Well done SA !

  • Marcio on August 20, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    Overall, SA have been the better team, and the biggest difference is the Saffa bowlers' ability to take wickets in all conditions, whereas the English seamers tend to struggle once the sun comes out. The SA batsmen seem very bloody minded in their determination to preserve their wickets, too. AND: there are some pretty immature posters round these parts! You don't kick a sick dog. England deserved their no. 1 status, but have been pretty inconsistent in the last year or so, especially in tests. So they can't rightly hold the crown right now. But I suppose all these nasty comments emerge as payback for a few notorious English posters here who love nothing more than to kick sick dogs. So maybe its karmic justice. Oh, and this game isn't over - although if England win it will be right up there with the great comebacks of all time.

  • disco_bob on August 20, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    If only Finn could have not bowled quite so well so England would take another 10 overs to dismiss SA, they'd be in a better position on the final day. There's a sort of perverted irony in there somewhere.

  • cric_fan123 on August 20, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    I am amazed by the sheer number of people saying the difference was two dropped catches. Really?!! What about those "two" amazing down the leg side catch decisions. What if they were given not out? Then some other excuse? Frankly, I thought Morne Morkel stumping was also incorrect. Bumble had the rule book out trying to justify what Prior did. Had it been England the captain and coach would have gone to the opposition dressing room to ask for mercy. Our boy mistakenly walked out of the crease.

  • on August 20, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    The comments on here are more entertaining than the cricket or the article above. Lets chat about some of the issues mentioned: Prior stumping Morkel after lifting his foot: Morkel made a mistake and was punished. We will probably see a change in how this aspect of the game is played and eventually umpired, but for now lets agree that it was within the rules, but possibly not in the spirit of the game. Finn running over the stumps from time to time: Should be no-balled not dead-balled. That way the batsman gets the benefit if he is desturbed to still score some runs. Morkel desturbing the surface of the pitch after bowling his first ball: Come on Morne, that will only get you into trouble. You and the rest of the bowling attack are good enough to finish the game by lunch time, don't stoop to their level.

  • on August 20, 2012, 8:06 GMT

    Absolutely agree with Usha Padmanabhan and nalla david 22.

  • Raghavan_123 on August 20, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    So much for the Team Ethics and Unity that England seem to have forgotten about the most important aspect of the game i.e Performance. Somebody like Strauss who has done virtually nothing for the last year and a half clearly and still retains his place clearly goes to show the manner in which England Cricket is run. No Wonder KP was agitated.

  • Ross_Co on August 20, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    @Usha Padmanabhan & @Gary Hansell. I'm astonished that your posts got through the cricinfo censorship machine. I've found that any mention of 'England's' -- err -- 'recurring behavioural issues' are routinely blocked. Instead we have to sit through George Dobell's sycophantic articles about Saint Andrew etc etc with no recourse to disagreement. Anybody who watched what occured in the Cardiff 2009 test knows what this side is all about.

  • on August 20, 2012, 7:49 GMT

    Mr Front foot lunge, learn to take a foot back when the length is beyond your reach. There's no context of India in here, its just that your side is about to lose the no 1 tag in your most coveted test-real-cricket-match form. And hanging India dry and all, well October is the driest month in India, so welcome for some dry-cleaning.

  • rahulcricket007 on August 20, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    @CHRIS SUN . YOU CAN BRING CUMMINS INTO TEAM . BUT I DON'T THINK HE WILL SURVIVE MORE THAN ONE TEST . HE WILL AGAIN GET INJURED AFTER PLAYING ONE MATCH .

  • on August 20, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    Congratulations England, you have lasted at the No 1 spot for exactly a year now...woof! And what a ride it has been for you! You played 11 tests and won 3 of them, but sadly, you did lose 5 of them too. You won almost all games at home (1 loss) and you lost almost all games away (1 win). You win some, you lose some, i know. But you won LESS, and lost MORE. How all-conquering did you look a year back boys. I will forever remember Tim's sidelong glances, and Broad's over-the-top bounces(just before he bowls). But now, Tim is gone and Broad is on the ground. We only wait to welcome you to India, and trust me, it will be a rousing, raucous affair here....

  • on August 20, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    Well, hypothetically England can still win, but with their more fluent strokeplayers still a couple of wickets away I only see them getting bogged down and creating yet more pressure. If England are serious and thinking clearly they'll have Prior padded up to come in next. Realistically i'm expecting Steyn and Morkel just to be too good and if England do get a roll on to see plenty of Kallis bowling his dry line outside off stump. They are holding all the cards and only a series of fumbled catches can stop them now.

  • rahulcricket007 on August 20, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    JIIMMY ANDERSON HAS DROPPED TOO MANY CATCHES IN THIS SERIES . I WONDER WHAT WILL HUSSAIN SAID ABOUT HIM LIKE HE COMMENTED IN INDIAN SLIP FIELDERS DURING LAST YEARS TOUR .

  • rahulcricket007 on August 20, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    lolz . how biased english commentators are ? it 's pathetic to listen to commentatory of hussain , atherton . they keep giving excuses . atherton sad that luck & some key moments have not gone in english way in this series that 's why england are in danger of losing no. 1 ranking . mr . atherton , if i reminded you in this test kallis the most experienced batsmen in sa was out twice controlversially . alviro pietersen was late in using drs in first innings . how can you say luck is not going in england 's favour . this is an excuse . WELL PLAYED AMLA . MAGICAL WRISTS .

  • bobmartin on August 20, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    Well I guess that should Sth Africe clinch the number one slot...their supporters have a special reason to be cheerful.. I mean.. law of averages said they had to come good sometime after all those years of choking..

  • JG2704 on August 20, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    @zenboomerang on (August 20 2012, 04:51 AM GMT) Just being realistic , I don't see it. I think we have too many plodders in our side - even if 2 of them are already out

  • JG2704 on August 20, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    @Marcio on (August 20 2012, 01:47 AM GMT) Warnerbasher's comments are just realistic , looking at the game as a from both sides. You should try it some time. Or maybe it's easier to give it the big one upfront and then get your excuses ready for if/when things go wrong - like your last ODI trip this way.

  • JG2704 on August 20, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    @aditya_017 on (August 20 2012, 00:43 AM GMT) Fair enough posts there. I certainly can't say that our form since becoming number 1 has been deserving of staying there , but our form to get to number one was very impressive. It's like as soon as we got there we went to pieces

  • no.1_multicultural_team on August 20, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    All those singing high praises of SA,hold on.It is true SA are a better team than Eng,and it has been proved.But before jumping on the number one bandwagon (which is quite a useless stat in the game of cricket,hyped by Eng media since they somehow managed to become something,before that noone really gave a hoot to number one ranking and all that),answer this -are SA really a number one team? A true number one team in my opinion is a team who can mostly and consistently win in all conditions against all oppositions.We have seen that SA fast bowlers become Fast Medium bowlers waiting to be thrashed,on pitches where bounce is not above waist high,i.e.India and I am not convinced of their batsmen's abilities if they were to face Pak spinners in the subcontinent.Unless they beat India in India,prove they can play on turning tracks,they are not true number ones,just a statistical ones like the many teams before.

  • JG2704 on August 20, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    @Chris_P on (August 19 2012, 23:35 PM GMT) One of my moans is that I don't believe we have given ourselves the best chance with the make up of the side. I've said it constantly for ages now - even before our decline in UAE . The sideshows re KP , I do not blame at all. We must remember that even if we score no more runs today ,KP played in the 1st test and made not a jot of difference. If we had tried a different formation and got thrashed I'd be happier than losing or even drawing this game knowing that we'd not tried everything to keep hold of our ranking. India will be tough and I hate to agree that this Eng team will struggle against that Indian team and as the ill comms flood I do agree with them. Anyway nice to have a decent commentor on here

  • JG2704 on August 20, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    @mahjut on (August 19 2012, 20:28 PM GMT) Sorry , I thought that in the last test and this test after the 1st inns leads were both less than 10 runs that kind of showed that things were pretty level. Yes we've had a few decisions but have also dropped some catches too. I would definitely say SA would be favourites to win the match as Eng batsmen are very poor at handling pressure of big run chases these days. Oh and re "SA have had some bad luck in this game (to make up for the dropped catches) " you mean a few bad decs balancing out the dropped catches from England?

  • on August 20, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    WAY TO GO SA!!!! KNOCK EM DEAD !!!!

    Finally the test match ranking system is going to tell the truth. SA has been the no. 1 team for the last 4-5 years. They have an unbelievable opening pair followed by a solid no. 3 and 4 who could very well pitch in for the openers; arguably the world's only genuine all rounder in Kallis and the best bowling attack and team composition has been unaltered for the last 4-5 years.

    England and India had risen to world no. 1 only because all teams came to their country and on tailor made pitches to suit the home nations. India is better of the two because it did not convert every pitch in India to behave like the turning Kanpur pitch and did draw the series with SA in SA in 2010 fair an d square. England did convert every pitch to be seaming and swinging and saved the series in SA by foul practices (whether it acknowledged by M/S Naz and Co. with the exception of Bumble, in the commentary box is a moot point).

  • Ross_Co on August 20, 2012, 6:28 GMT

    @RandyOz - I'm waiting for @Front_Foot_Lunge to tell us how this was another dominant display by the invulnerable England Team. When he rolled that one out to describe the iffy series victory over the Windies I thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever read on these pages. Alas, where is he now?

  • nalladavid22 on August 20, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    hey guys here u go....south africa the game of legends...no1 test team in the world.wht a performance ....they deserved to b no1 ..what a players smith ,kallis amla,devilers,wow salute for them,i am basically frm india,but the spirit they show in game is out standing..wow SOUTH AFRICA U R THE LEGEND

  • on August 20, 2012, 6:22 GMT

    As a normal cricket lover I must voice my concern how the game has degenerated as typified by the actions of the wicket keeper for England yesterday. The norms have changed I grant that but to hang onto the ball hoping the batsman will eventually over balance is I believe detrimental to the spirit of the game. It would be the right of every teams wicket wicket keeper now to hold on to the ball indefinitely even pretend to throw it to a fieldsmen, then hover over the stumps again waiting for the chance for a dismal. Maybe the South Africans should highlight this anarchism in England's innings and display this atrocious display of bad sportsmanship by England. Every time the ball passes the bat hover endlessly over the stumps to a degree that it is obvious to all how far the game can degenerate. May I also express that the continual squealing, oohing and arring behind the stumps to nearly each delivery demonstrates naivety and crassness rather than appreciation of good cricket!

  • on August 20, 2012, 6:11 GMT

    Really happy that the Proteas showed some fight in the mid to lower order. Their efforts combined with another beautiful century from Amla have kept them ahead in this test. The fat lady is not singing yet but I think she is starting to warm up. It is not impossible for England to pull off something amazing but with the run rate at 3.6 and an excellent bowling attack it is going to be nigh impossible. Well done and thank you to Cricinfo for providing us with great info & entertainment throughout the series.

  • on August 20, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    well i think s. africa is the only team with potential of wining in any condition.....be it india , pak , aus or england....i dont think english team can take quality spin bowling...as is case wid india against quality fast bowling...but i really think d bad time for english team has started becoz dey r going to tour india soon ...

  • sidnam on August 20, 2012, 5:56 GMT

    Stuart Broad is so overrated man, Unless he wins this match for Eng with the bat, i think he's definitely under the scanner. He definitely needs to up his game for the India series. If he did not have someone as good as Anderson to open the bowling with I'm sure he wouldnt get half the wickets that he's got(a la Sobers who got loads of wkts because batsman couldn't score against the other bowlers).. anderson, broad, swann.. who could be the weak link? definitely broad..

  • ian45 on August 20, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    @Ayrton5 and company, you right, this isnt over but it sure will be before tea, you just need to look at the body lingo of trott and bell, lets call them stone hands, we will nip them out before you can say boo, england is back to there losing ways

  • TheJester79 on August 20, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge. Woulda, coulda, shoulda... Lets face it, its a whole lot easier to say "if only we..." than actually doing it? Games are made by taking the chances that present themselves and not by what could have been... England were outplayed in every facet of the game and that my friend is that. Except it and move on.

  • Jack_Tka on August 20, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    So the result is coming out in SA's favour. Finally!!! phew. No doubt that SA has dominated the entire series. And being plummetted in the homeground, Eng needs some introspection. 0-3 against Pak was a warning and this series was the final nail in the coffin. BTW, English commentators will be humbled now, just as Indian commentators were last year after losing the Rank #1. I read an article about "Philander" by Aakash Chopra about how he's in-effective in english conditions. I wonder what he has to say now.

  • rafhuss on August 20, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    England will blast against KP after this test defeat. England downfall started right before Pakistan UAE test series. But they did'nt coped their deficiencies. South Africa deserves No.1 spot. They are balanced all around. England have problems all around. Broad in bowling, Strauss in batting and fielding overall is not efficient. I hope england will fight today "even if they lose".

  • on August 20, 2012, 5:30 GMT

    2 or 3 great season doesn't make any team or player ol time champion or legend respectively nd for that u need to be consistent for long period of time England nd India completely failed in this, both are worst test no.1 test cricket ever get both get no.1 spot by playing more games @home nd poor outside home...back to the point this will probably a End of Home Bullies England...English team is very poor in sub continent now on verge of losing against Proteas @ home n lost to West Indies in West Indies..still they r one of the best in business ? really ?

    Ankur Singh die hard fan of Irish cricket nd life time supporter of associate and affiliate cricket

  • CSKftw on August 20, 2012, 5:28 GMT

    @Vinay Kolhatkar, Front Foot Lunge So what if India didn't whitewash any team? They still managed to win those series which is what matters. India never lost 0-3 to a team ranked no.5 or get beaten 2-0 at home while they were no1 either. Draws are more common in subcontinent conditions than in England. Their highest rating while no.1 was 130 whereas England's peak rating while they were no.1 was only 125 which shows that India had been more dominant than England were. England could hold the no.1 rank for only half as long as they did, their rise to no.1 was quick but so was their downfall, their performance since reaching no.1 hasn't been noteworthy. England beat mostly rebuilding teams like Australia and underprepared teams like India caught up in a world cup hangover in conditions favorable to England. They drew against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka and barely won 1-0 against them at home and were humiliated by a no.5 ranked Pakistan and thoroughly outplayed by SA in their own backyard.

  • CoorparooMaverick on August 20, 2012, 5:05 GMT

    C'mon all you england supports, suck in that pride and admit you were beaten by a far superior side, theres no shame in that. Quit making excuses, oh dropped catches, oh bad time for the innings to end blah blah. no excuses just say SA are better than us and leave it at that, everyone else can see it.

  • disco_bob on August 20, 2012, 5:05 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge, "With their catches taken, England would be winning..." FFL, you are always good for a larf. Yes, if England fielded better, batted better and bowled better they'd have won this in three days. Anyway, two dropped catches pretty well evens out two poor leg side decisions.

  • joerun on August 20, 2012, 4:57 GMT

    It would have been a great match if kp played. Good luck SA.

  • raj_24 on August 20, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    @vinay

    You said it correctly.India never crushed any body in test series.But some indian fans would have none of it.they keep the same view that Eng did not deserve No.1

    Secondly I think Australia will beat SA in the series in Nov.2012 by 2-1 or 2-0.

    Only 2 teams were really best and no.1 ranked best team WI 1980 -1995 and AUS 1995-2009

  • Patchmaster on August 20, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    It was almost a criminal act not to pick Onions over Broad in this test. But here was Broad, bowling with the same speed as a Sunday league trundler and batting like one two, an Onions had just taken 9-57 in the County game. I think Bresnan would have been better in this game than Broad, even though he's injured, because at least Bresnan can bat. Broads annoying swagger wears a bit thin as well.

  • zenboomerang on August 20, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    @David Hopps... Seems all reporters have given up, even the Eng ones... So what if Eng is 2 for 15 with 330 to get - its not impossible... The exact same Saffa bowlers had Oz at 2 for 19, yet Oz managed to get over 300 to win the Test & tie the series... If you look at the Joberg Test scores it is nearly the same as this one - the only batsman to get a century in both teams was Alma, the required run rate is nearly the same & the highest Oz score was 65 in the 2nd innings... Oz had Smith & Khawaja as inexperienced batsmen, Cummins in his 1st Test & Johnson doing nothing for his bowling stats by being expensive & taking only 2 wkts, though he batted well with 2 x n.o.'s... Yet, as a team we pulled together & scrapped home to a historic win... All 4 results are still possible...

  • Patchmaster on August 20, 2012, 4:48 GMT

    Prior dropping Amla was equivalent to Warne dropping Peiterson in the Ashes. ANy other keeper would have gone with TWO hands at that. Prior is a GREAT player, but needs to start using two hands, he went through a phase of dropping a clanger every match nearly. He could get in the side on his batting alone, but needs to start going with two hands when he can, it's one of the first things they teach keepers at school......well, maybe not the school he went to, but most schools ;-)

  • satish619chandar on August 20, 2012, 4:48 GMT

    Well.. Yet another good day of cricket.. SA again coming on top.. Some way, injury to Boucher worked decently for SA.. Having Duminy at 7 was one positive for SA but not sure whether WK affected ABD's batting though.. All the guys from 5 to 10 contributed this game and that is the key difference between the sides.. England also need not worry that much.. They never allowed SA to run away with the game after the Oval debacle.. They do have too many questions to handle reg. Strauss primarily and then with Broad and Swann.. Onions in terrific form but sitting outside for Broad and Monty inspite of picking wickets is now branded as second spinner and only for SC.. Swann is still ok for lefties but remains bad against right bats.. Most teams have right bats only and England need to look at the stats for last one or two years to judge it.. SA had right players for right slots and worked very well.. Bowling was top notch and good that their primary attacked stayed through the series..

  • JustOUT on August 20, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    As a proteas fan, I am very much ready for partying after day 5. SA played like a real champs. The grit & determination Smith provided during start of every innings is extraordinary. If he would have got out in the first 5 overs, SA would have been in deep trouble. Smith is a champion captain. Btw, for all those Indian fans who thinks that they can be back to No.1, please wake up. Unless you find someone to replace Dravid & Laxman, it is very very hard for you guys to just win a series at home. You can't always rely on Sehwag to provide you a smashing start.

  • disco_bob on August 20, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    To hear Steve Finn say that 'we still believe we can win' is not about positive thinking it's about empty rhetoric the likes of which England is in a class of their own. To seriously suggest that the remaining eight have even a microscopic chance of batting the entire day at almost 4 an over, is breathtaking in it's contempt for the intelligence of those watching. What happened to all this talk of 'honesty'. At least if KP was playing there might still be something to entertain the spectators, otherwise it's difficult to see why anyone would pay to see the hopefully mercifully quick ending.

  • Naksh on August 20, 2012, 4:32 GMT

    @AyrtonS - I'll complete the statement for you - James Anderson is the best Opening Bowlers around hands down - only when the conditions favour him.

  • screamingeagle on August 20, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    I was actually looking forward to this, but all I feel for England now, is pity. I really feel sorry for you guys. Good luck in the future.

  • yoogi on August 20, 2012, 4:18 GMT

    Hope the columnist knows that this is read by international audience, not just UK. He sees it from only one side, and thats not good for international readership. Amla deserves a better mention and so is philander who has shined with both ball and bat, just see how much you dedicate on Finn and other SA performers.

  • on August 20, 2012, 4:17 GMT

    Enjoyed the cricket at its best 'the test cricket".It was wonderful watching some excellent seam bowling by Finn against a committed Amla.This was a great relief from the ODI's and T -20.The icing on the cake will be if England can manage to win.Trott like Amla can make a match out of it.A tailor made situation for some one like the recently retired VVS.

  • Vista12 on August 20, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    @AyrtonS - sounds like you really know your cricket. Firstly, the game has been interesting since day 1, secondly, we all know James Anderson is one of the best opening bowlers in the world - he has been ranked consistently in the top 10 for 5 years - although he has struggled against decent batsmen with the conditions arent doing anything for him. Philander got himself out off Anderson (shocking ball) and he bowled Tahir who can claim to be as good as Chris Martin as a batsmen. Besides that, Anderson was wicketless, his pace was down and he wasnt swinging the ball. So where did that comment come from? Finn is bowling better than Anderson, so is Morkel, Steyn and Philander. Good luck on your "bet" - you are going to need it.

  • Last_ride on August 20, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    I would absolutely love to know where is 5Wombats now.South africa World No1.Cant wait to take on the aussies in Australia.Go South africa...............

  • on August 20, 2012, 3:54 GMT

    Lot of the pundits and fans are of the opinion that England underperfromed throughout the series ..I think that is harsh..1st game they were pumelled..2nd and 3rd test has been quite levelled..SA havent been allowed to get too far ahead....Stuart Broad has been pretty absymal though..But they have got depth with Tremlett and Onions who are very good bowlers..SA are a slightly better team..they have a lot to prove before they get rid of their choker tag though..1)Maintain their No. status in Test 2) Get to No.1 in ODi 3) Most importantly win 2015 WC

  • squarepeg on August 20, 2012, 3:44 GMT

    It is time one salutes Amla, who somehow found the way to score at a decent clip without taking much risk. His ploy of shuffling across towards the off-stump baffled the English bowlers incl Swann. England needs KP, and KP needs to put country and team first, over himself and IPL. I'm sure he can do it.

  • rhtdm302 on August 20, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    Despite DRS! SA Do it!

    Headlines for tomorrow

  • xylo on August 20, 2012, 3:39 GMT

    This England team does not look like the one that defeated Aus in Aus and India at home. They appear so jaded with so many catches being dropped, as the author says. Maybe it is the schedule that famously caused KP to "retire"?

  • RandyOZ on August 20, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    This reminds me of the entire Pakistan series. @landl @5wombats @hammond deathly silence. Fair weather? yes.

  • on August 20, 2012, 3:32 GMT

    Love the excellent article with dollops of British resilience and good humor. The ending is priceless ... "And, as for the injury, it was not even his bowling hand."

  • sust2001 on August 20, 2012, 3:32 GMT

    It is going to prove tomorrow how poor England team could be in absence of KP. Feel sorry for you.

  • AyrtonS on August 20, 2012, 3:31 GMT

    This game is NOT over by any means, this is test cricket and anything can happen on the last day, granted the odds are against England, however they are one of the great cricketing nations of the world and this is a chance for them to show what they are made of.

    *** Good luck England, go for it, make the game interesting. S.A is also a great team but my bet is on England.

    *** Test Cricket, Lovely Test Cricket. ***

    BTW: James Anderson is one of the BEST opening bowlers in the world, hands down, the guys not only bowls with decent pace but also swings the ball a great deal, He would be my first pick in any bowling attack in the world.

  • landl47 on August 20, 2012, 3:25 GMT

    Today went, unfortunately, the same way as most of the second and third test has gone; England had their chances and didn't take them, while SA made the most of their opportunities. After Steyn had gone, to have got ABD for 8 would have put England back in the game, but the chance went down as most of the key chances have gone down. Had Amla gone for 2 in this test, or Peteresen for 29 in the second test, then how different would the scores have looked? But that's what separates the #1 side from the rest. SA has taken every key chance. Cook and Strauss falling to straightforward medium pacers from Philander in the evening was just the icing on the cake. I hope the England boys put up a decent fight tomorrow, but SA have been the better side in this series and deserve the #1 ranking. To grizzle and Chris_P: thank you for a fair assessment of the sides. SA has been the better team, but England has fought hard after the debacle at the Oval. I appreciate your balanced viewpoint.

  • on August 20, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    england do have a good bowling attack,but i think there is a problem in there selection.they should go with anderson ,finn& onions/woakes.a #1 team should always go with a team whose bowlers bowl well in any conditions. i find broad and bresnan only suitable to english conditions.finn is definitely an exceptional bowler in all conditions. hence a sure pick. anderson is the most experienced bowler and suitable to other conditions.woakes or even stuart meaker should be experimented at test level

  • RandyOZ on August 20, 2012, 3:18 GMT

    Cue the excuses from the English fans (they've already begun). Face it this is the worst number 1 ranked side of all time and have been shown up by a far superior team. 9/10 top batsmen in the series suoth african!

  • jmcilhinney on August 20, 2012, 3:16 GMT

    Well, that should be pretty much that I suppose. England were in with a decent shot until they started dropping catches. I said before the series that it would hurt England if they didn't improve their catching. It hasn't improved and it has hurt them. Take off the extra ~150 runs that Amla and de Villiers scored after being dropped and the total would look eminently gettable. If you can't take catches, especially easy ones, you don't really deserve to win and, against quality batsmen, you won't. Finn rekindled a bit of hope there for a while but another good contribution with the bat from Philander looks to have taken SA to safety. Crucially, the timing of the innings changeover was bad for England and that made the batsmen very keen not to play balls they didn't have to, contributing to, although not justifying, that atrocious misjudgement from Strauss. England may yet pull off a miracle but I expect to be congratulating SA this time tomorrow.

  • CSKftw on August 20, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    @Chris_P India never lost a series at home while they were no.1 though. Throughout India's reign as no.1 there was constant whinging from England, Australia and South Africa fans about how India did not deserve to be no.1 since they couldn't win in Eng, SA or Aus. If that's the case you will have to use the same yardstick for England. While England did beat Australia in Australia, Australian conditions are similar to conditions in England, just like Sri Lankan conditions are to Indian conditions. They lost 0-3 to no.4 ranked Pakistan and haven't won a series in India since 1985 whereas India beat them in England in 2007. Their performance hasn't been great ever since they reached the no.1 rank, like their players themselves have admitted.

  • only_india_1 on August 20, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    @Chris P: you too please check your stats too: you are partially right about india rule as world #1, but then, this English team didn't defend their title more than India. Last summer when they gained #1 rank, they did it against India whose bowling unit was weak as usual and and batting lineup was exploited in English condition. England prepared the pitches very well that suit their bowlers. This summer too, they prepared their pitches likewise, but they forgot or under-estimated opponents, whose bowling unit is most powerful it has ever got and batting exploited bowling weakness of this English unit, and proved English bowling is nothing but hype. Gosh, England were hammered 3-0 by then #5 or 6 seeded Pakistan, you can just measure team's greatness from there. Good Luck SA, let your time begin, but beware India will be coming back soon.

  • Unifex on August 20, 2012, 2:39 GMT

    in the last 40 Tests, stretching back to May 2009, Strauss has averaged 35.40, with 4 hundreds and 6 ducks. That's not good. He's got to go.

  • InnocentGuy on August 20, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    Come on, it isn't over until it's over. Eng may draw it still (even though that still takes their #1 rank away) or maybe even win it! Bairstow showed a lot of guts and promise. Since they are likely to lose their #1 rank, they may just make a run for it and try to win this one. That said, I am a huge RSA fan and I hope they win the series 2-0.

  • Chris_Howard on August 20, 2012, 2:15 GMT

    I hate to be negative, but I don't know who David Hopps is, but he ain't Peter Roebuck. Though I wouldn't discourage him from woking on it. Just as England need to work on their game. It's extraordinary, looking at SA, that they haven't been sitting at #1 for years. Very much under performing when it matters. Good to see they've finally got it together.

  • CSKftw on August 20, 2012, 2:11 GMT

    I can't remember the last time I saw a no.1 team lose so convincingly at home. India were at least dominant at home and only lost 0-4 to a team that was ranked no.2 at the time on their turf. England however lost to Pakistan (ranked no.4) 0-3 at neutral venues and now it looks like they're going to lose 0-2 to SA. Their performance since reaching the no.1 rank has definitely not been as consistent as it prior to that. Just for the record, India were ranked no.1 for 20 months whereas England have held that rank for only 12 months and their peak rating is only 125 whereas India's was 130 so to all those who said India were the weakest no.1 team, that dubious honor definitely belongs to England now.

  • kensohatter on August 20, 2012, 1:59 GMT

    Well done SA the no.1 spot is much deserved and this only really cements what the whole world already knew. They should hold the spot for a while now with the majority of their team middle aged and australia and india both in rebuilding phases. England are still a solid side but must end this peterson rubbish and now stick with the youngsters bairstow and taylor. Cant wait for the ashes... its going to be a cracker! Cummins, Pattinson v Bairstow, Taylor and Broad Anderson v Warner, cowan... oh and then you can add the seasoned professionals of Cook, Strauss, Swann and Bell v Ponting, Hussey, Clarke and Watson. Tough fight but the experience in the bowling attack may be the difference

  • Capt.Harry on August 20, 2012, 1:57 GMT

    Kevin Petersen reminds me of a schoolboy cricketer who refuses to grow up and accept the reality of winning and losing.Until he can understand not everyone in the dressing will be his friend then and only then will he at ease with himself and concentrate on cricket.He has a lot to offer to England still.If not head back to South Africa.Man cricket is like life.Time to mature, move on and face the music. And by the way the less 'friends' you have is always better.One day the wisdom of experience will be your guide.Good luck!

  • AMAZINGFAN on August 20, 2012, 1:50 GMT

    poms get ready to face another hammering this nov.indian batsmen will thrash these england bowlers.

  • Marcio on August 20, 2012, 1:47 GMT

    @Warnerbasher " I shudder to think what messrs Steyn, Philander and Morkel may do to us in Oz later this year". Who knows, AUS might do even better than they did in SA a few months ago, where they won 4 of the 7 games - and given that this will be a home series, it is reasonable to think they will do well. Pace bowling has never been AUS weakness - our batsmen are raised on it and there are faster bowlers in AUS - so I don't see that being a doomsday scenario. I actually think our batsmen will do well against them - just as they did in SA. The 47 all out was an abberation (SA lost 9/49 on the same day, remember), and the rest was pretty good. The other issue is that Philander will have his first series where conditions don't favour him (unless the weather is unusually wet), and I don't expect he will be a huge problem. And Aussies play spin bowling very well in AUS conditions, so Tahir might struggle, I think. I expect a tight series.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 20, 2012, 1:20 GMT

    I feel so miserable and I am not even an English fan :) I wonder how the English public feel now. Shortest reign of a no.1 team by a long shot. It in itself is a record that needs smashing. But England have nothing to lose. Still a VERY VERY good test match team. Because it's a format they love playing and rightly so - the mother of cricket. Even if they are no longer no.1 from tomorrow, they should hover around the top 3 for at least 2 more years. In that space, anything can happen. Besides, England have back to back Ashes series. If they do manage to put in some good performances then that no.1 ranking could come back to them. SA's REAL test begins from tomorrow. As in the case of England, getting to no.1 isn't that big of a deal, but remaining there is. I hope SA breaks that jinx. Good luck to them.

  • nelarowantri on August 20, 2012, 0:57 GMT

    How does it feel POMMIES for holding the record of being at the no.1 position for the SHORTEST PERIOD of time in the history of the game of cricket ? So much for the hype after winning just a few home series. With SA at no.1, It would take at least another couple of generations for POMMIES again to compete at this big league level. Kudos for keeping up with the world class teams at least for a short period of time.

  • on August 20, 2012, 0:45 GMT

    All over for England; and there goes the gloss of the Olympics that gave the world nothing new anyway, too. The winter rain will come soon, then a young Australian bowling attack will arrive next year with just as much potency as this SA attack as India have already discovered. If Australia actually find some batsmen it could be very ugly for England next year without KP, and not many ex-pat SA batsmen available for calling on.

  • aditya_017 on August 20, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    Cont. from previous post....

    Granted there's a series in there against the Bangladeshis, and a series against NZL (not knwn fer test matches), but we also drew 2 series (home n away) against SA, that must mean a lot. Also, a drawn away series against Sri Lanka, and with Murali still playing. An away series win againsty Windies. A 2-0 victory Aussies even if at home.

    England as No. 1 side:

    England in Dubai, Result 3-0 to Pakistan England in Sri Lanka, Result Drawn 1-1 Windies in England, Result 2-0 to England SA in England, Result 2-0 to SA (?)

    That makes it a win-loss record of 3-6 (?). And series win-loss-draw record of 1-2-1.

    So, yeah, there's no comparison, India were a better no. 1 side than England will ever be :D

  • aditya_017 on August 20, 2012, 0:42 GMT

    @ Chris_P "And answer yourself how may series they defended that # 1 ranking for? Less than England!"

    India in Bangladesh Test Series, Jan 2010 Result India 2-0 (2) South Africa in India Test Series, Feb 2010 Result Drawn 1-1 (2) India in Sri Lanka Test Series, Jul-Aug 2010 Result Drawn 1-1 (3) Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Oct 2010 (Australia in India) Result India 2-0 (2) New Zealand in India Test Series, Nov 2010 Result India 1-0 (3) India in South Africa Test Series, Dec 2010 - Jan 2011 Result Drawn 1-1 (3) India in West Indies Test Series, Jun-Jul 2011 Result India 1-0 (3)

    That's 7 series before we got our asses kicked in England (only series we lost as No. 1, even though it was an embarrassing defeat). A record of 11 wins, 3+4 (in england) losses, so 11-7 record as No. 1 side. And series win-loss-draw record of 4-1-3.

    To be cont....

  • CoorparooMaverick on August 20, 2012, 0:26 GMT

    Well SA are showing their class and the United Nations team are showing that they are good but not quite as good as everyone keeps telling them. To those who suggest that "if" those dropped catches had been taken... well they weren't and thats the point isn't it? its an integral part of the game and if you cant do it you deserve to be put to the Amla, sorry, sword. Look at the averages of the players involved, this is series is an indication of who is the better team. SA easily it seems.

  • BokkeForever on August 20, 2012, 0:25 GMT

    Easy everybody, we still need 8 wickets!! As an ever pessimistic Saffer I'm not counting my chickens just yet.

  • on August 20, 2012, 0:19 GMT

    @spot_on, more than skill eh? so... luck? 00

  • on August 20, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    England deserved their no 1 ranking and now SA do as well. WI did, as did Australia but India NEVER did. The series points were awarded regardless of margins and India never even beat NZ or WI by more than 1-0. Their bowling was never up to it. It was a statistical anomaly. Each no 1 team has at least twice smashed another good team, like 4-0 with innnings defeats etc. SA have almost done a whitewash on England and let's see who they whitewash now. India could not even whitewash Zimbabwe or Bangladesh, let alone one of the major teams.

  • Badgerofdoom on August 19, 2012, 23:58 GMT

    Well as they say, catches win matches, if the chances from Amla on 2 and De Villiers on 8 had been taken it might be a very different situation. England's catching has been poor all series and its something that needs looking at. Still, no complaints as SA have been the better side throughout.

  • Chris_P on August 19, 2012, 23:35 GMT

    @JG2704. To be fair, your guys have come up against an opponent at the top of their game while your team was a little below their best. This happens in cricket, as you know if you played, otherwise you would get a century every time you batted!. Given the sideshows that have occurred, you can at least take away the comfort they went down with a fight after that first test. Also, given your side's success over the past 3 years, there are still few points ot defend so they will be within striking distance of grabbing the top spot again, for at least the next 18 months. I just hope the Boks use their up their good fortune before they get to us!

  • Chris_P on August 19, 2012, 23:27 GMT

    @premclement. Please, if you are going to quote statistics quote correct ones. India's reign at the top was from December 2009 to July 2011, a total of 20 months, which equates is 1.67 years. And answer yourself how may series they defended that # 1 ranking for? Less than England! They may not deserve #1 after this test, but they certainly deserved it when they had it.

  • no-ball on August 19, 2012, 23:06 GMT

    RednWhiteArmy

    Where are you hiding! South Africa should wrap-up this test before tea. I'm not sure England can survive an entire day. What this short series has proved, is that SA are clearly a superior side to England. They have a better batting and bowling line-up. Pity it wasn't a five test series so England could have been smashed even further.

  • on August 19, 2012, 23:00 GMT

    Gosh, people are counting their chickens. I wish the match was already won but it's not, anything can happen. @Jim1207 - I agree actually, this series is definitely entertaining, but that one was more tense and thrilling to me as saffa as well ;) (mind you, to be fair, was glued to the tv for that whereas i've just been snatching glimpses of coverage now.) Actually, not blowing our own bugles or anything, but I think SA does have a knack for creating entertaining cricket quite often - mostly because there's that 'never know what's going to happen' wild card thing going on with them; they might beat down the opposition mightily, they might be bowled out for less than a hundred and under-perform spectacularly, it's never clear what'll happen. They keep you on your toes. Fun being their fan, have almost never been bored watching their matches ;) Go SA :D

  • spot_on on August 19, 2012, 22:54 GMT

    LOL.. Poms... November is not far away. You will be rolled over in India as you have always been. I'm proud that my Indian team did not lose in a wayward fashion like this at home. Losing at home in a pathetic manner. Is there one batsman in your team who can do what sehwag can do in Indian pitches. Do they even know how to chase a target in their respective homes. Funny that all english fans talkin about cricket and its beauty only on faster tracks. Face a player like warnie on a pitch like bangalore. Spinning tracks are the most beatiful in cricket. It requires more than skill to make a ball spin in a right way and hit the wickets. BTW, whats england's record after being world no 1 .. lol Loss after loss.... you dont deserve that ranking.

  • grizzle on August 19, 2012, 22:49 GMT

    A slightly worrying point for the English attack, though, is the form of Broad. What has happened to him?! This time last year, he seemed absolutely invincible! Anderson hasn't exactly covered himself with glory either in this test and today, he looked somewhat frustrated and at times, a little petulant.

  • jb633 on August 19, 2012, 22:48 GMT

    @Surlycynic- well there seems to be some hypocrisy in your sentiment as you are South African and are still complaining. And it shows how clueless you must be if you think that he had finished his shot. Fair enough you have beaten us hands down in this series, but South Africans should not be lecturing Englishmen on fair play. Remember the name Cronje? People keep going on about how English fans and players whinge and cheat but the reality is most people here can accept good cricket when we see it. And no doubt SA have played good cricket. I wonder if Engand losing the no 1 status will mean that our Indian fans will get off our case. Somehow me thinks not.

  • grizzle on August 19, 2012, 22:45 GMT

    Thoroughly enjoyable test thus far. Great fight shown by both teams. Both recovered from top-order collapses to post respectable first innings scores. Every time one side looked like pulling away, they were pulled back. Great stuff! Goes without saying that England's catching let them down today. But Finn and Swann were absolutely top-notch and a pleasure to watch. Like many other Indian posters on these forums, I was initially somewhat skeptical of England being a deserving no. 1 side (I thought SA deserved it more). But the resilience shown by this English team in the face of adversity in this series has convinced me that they belong at (or at least near) the top. I am sure they will pretty soon be challenging SA again for the no. 1 spot (if indeed they do lose it tomorrow). As regards SA, what can you say? They thoroughly deserve the no. 1 spot and I would love to see them get it, given the amount of time they've spent close to the top.

  • on August 19, 2012, 22:40 GMT

    It was always in the reckoning..England is the most overrated cricketing nation in the world..They got lucky with the decline of australia to be as a No.1 Team for a short while..there have been only 2 No.1 sides in world cricket..west indies and australia....for every other country, No.1 is just a pit stop before they get toppled..SA will hover around the spot for a while before it goes to some other team now! Good thing is they have champion Dayle Steyn..he can walk into any cricketing team..any era..his leg cutters are like shane warne bowling with richard hadlee's grace!

  • on August 19, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    To be honest, I saw the highlight of all 3 of those Test matches and have to say, South Africa are simply on another level, such a dangerous force to face and probably the best team in the world. England yes a top team as well but just cannot compete with both bat and ball as well as the South Africans. Everyone in that South African team apart from the Pakistani Imran Tahir and yes AB De Villers just in this series performed fantastically well especially their aggressive fast bowlers but the one I was really impressed of was Philander which in my opinion is underated such a top bowler.

  • BravoBravo on August 19, 2012, 22:32 GMT

    @premclement : just a correction, IND was there just for 18 months NOT 2.4 yrs. And ENG will be there for 14 months if they dont WIN the third test aginst SA.

  • jb633 on August 19, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    SA bowling attack is absolutley awesome. I thought before this series that the attacks were evenly matched but I was wrong. The SA attack is the best since the great Aussie side. I think this is going to be Strauss' last game. He has just gone as a batsman and with his defiency against any spinner there is no point in him touring India. SA will wrap this up midway through the second session. They have thoroughly deserved this win and they should stay at number one for years to come.

  • SICHO on August 19, 2012, 22:16 GMT

    Today we dominated English cricket, first at the U19WC, then 16/2 chasing 346. Goodness me the target look miles away at this position. I'm waiting for Hammond to comment and by the looks of it, he's nowhere to be seen.

  • on August 19, 2012, 22:12 GMT

    SA should really thank Pakistan for the their No. 1 ranking. It was Pakistan that whitewashed them 3-0 earler and made all the cracks on the Eng's wall. Without them going down 3-0 to Pakistan, it would have been tough the ranking to SA.

  • sirvivfan on August 19, 2012, 22:12 GMT

    Forget about points.....to determine worlds best team......the fact is South Africa are clearly a better team than England.....also please do not forget stinger loss to Pakistan 3-0 despite oppositions wek batting!

  • Chris_P on August 19, 2012, 22:03 GMT

    @Great_Aussie. My fellow countryman. About 10 years ago, the Saffers went past us for a month or so until we went over there & won the series to reclaim #1. So let's get the facts right before hurling the you-know-what please. And to be blunt, whether you are #1 for 5 days or 5 years, it would have been deserved. Let's not forget Pat Rafter was world tennis #1 for one week, yet we proudly (rightly so) refer to him as a former world #1.

  • premclement on August 19, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    I can't believe England are surrending their No.1 rank to SA in one year since they reached there. At least, India managed to be No.1 for 2.4 years. For all the hype created by England when they reached No.1 is nothing but a joke. They don't deserve to be no.1 anymore.

  • Jim1207 on August 19, 2012, 20:58 GMT

    @CricketOlympian: Better contested series was India vs South Africa when India almost won the series IN South Africa, barring Kallis' masterclass 498 runs in 3 match series. India managed to come back and even the series and push SA to the extreme in 3rd test until SA fought for the draw. This is not even a better series, this series has been won hands-down by proteas IN England, they have been slightly or overwhelmingly dominant in all 3 tests. Please do not regard this series so highly to prove that test cricket is alive. Test Cricket has always been interesting, alive and it has been possible so by each of the test playing nations, not by one or two series here and there. Cheers.

  • mahjut on August 19, 2012, 20:51 GMT

    chris sun in fairness there is a vague point about Sa aus - it's a bit like Waugh's Aus and Ind; just never really managing to have that dominance over the other. SA of course did give number 1 ranked aus a hiding on their own turf but they like to give the aussies a place to make their name; and that's usually in SA ... hughes cummins and Johnson being obvious examples, but Finn did better in this test than Cummins did in his lone test - be interesting to see if England get close and don't choke!

  • warnerbasher on August 19, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    Hey hhillbumper to be fair all your batsmen built up some pretty impressive stats against India and Australia over the last few years. In fact Trott looked to be the most impressive batsmen in the Pom team in the trying conditions of the UAE during your last winter. Its only natural that after a few years of high scoring consistency that he have a down period. Hopefully our bowling attack will have improved enough to give him a good test in the Ashes next year. Your bowlers might enjoy bowling to our fragile batting though. I shudder to think what messrs Steyn, Philander and Morkel may do to us in Oz later this year

  • mahjut on August 19, 2012, 20:43 GMT

    citzenkc - what would you consider a spinner of high quality (as an aside i do think Tahir bowls too loose and seems to have found the burden of expectation quite hard so far ) becasue if it is something like Swann then one has to say SA have that too. England prepared a wicket they thought would aid the point they thought they had over SA -ie a decent spinner - in the first test and Swann got outbowled so much so that he was dropped in the second as a seaming wicket was prepared but Tahir played a part (so did KP but only after SA had started hitting out). i kinda get that he's not yet showed himself a high quality bowler but i think he'd vital in this team and i hope he finds himself soon!

  • JG2704 on August 19, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    @Stark62 on (August 19 2012, 19:51 PM GMT) Problem is Eng have a more recent history of choking esp with the batting. Obviously it's not impossible but I don't think our team can get out of their natural defensive mindset and we have very few attacking players to chase down such a big score at a competitive run rate. England , I believe signalled their intent by not bringing in either of our 2 most attacking batsmen (Prior and Jonny) in the top 4.

  • ashes61 on August 19, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    The difference between the 2 sides in each Test is that SA have sold their wkts dearly. Almost every session has come down to that. Of two very strong bowling attacks SA's has been the more incisive & penetrating. Tactics ENG used to destroy AUS & IND have been successfully used by SA, who have patiently refused to panic when runs dry up, as AUS & IND did. They have won most of the attritional battles - perfect Test cricket. SurlyCynic: Prior's stumping was perfectly within the laws & spirit - remember slo-mo makes it look much more "delayed." It was fine. Cpt.Meanster: On SKY I heard no excuses whatsoever, only admiration for SA's performance. And whoever is baying for Strauss's & Cook's blood knows nothing of cricket. Spending all day skippering in the field in that sticky heat, then rushing in to pad up (& it's not just pads!) before returning (still sweaty) with scrambled brain, all in 10 mins, makes opening a hazardous job, as any opener here will tell you! Two walking wickets.

  • gimme-a-greentop on August 19, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    To be fair these teams are very evenly matched in general, South Africa have just a.) played better at key moments and fielded better, and b.) sucked up all the pressure England could throw at them, which in the past has been easily good enough for England to beat other teams at home. This SA Test team is actually quite mentally strong, it's in one day cricket they go a bit haywire sometimes. It's not over yet, though, this Test has been too close for there not to be one final little drama, even if England don't win. Cracking Test cricket, my nerves were shredded most of the time except for 3 days at the Oval. England should not try to blame KP or find other excuses.

  • whoster on August 19, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    SA fully deserve the no.1 spot come tomorrow, and they'd also deserve the likely 2-0 scoreline. I thought today was a microcosm of the series; England threatening to fight back, but SA never losing control of the game. They've simply outplayed us in all departments, and apart from the first day of the series, SA have been calling the shots. SA have without doubt the best pace and seam attack in world cricket, and their batsmen have ground our bowlers down. From England's view, great to see Finn and Bairstow doing well in this Test, and they should be given a good run in the side. Broad's lack of pace was worrying, and even though it'd weaken our batting, Onions really deserves another chance. SA have played superbly in the series, against a team that would expect to beat any other Test side at home. Hats off, and congratulations.

  • mahjut on August 19, 2012, 20:28 GMT

    JG2794, i must say there's little in your post i can agree with - the 2nd test was not particularly balanced (as after Peterson and Smith had seen off the new ball there really was never any chance England were going to win) and quite honestly in this test i think tomorrow will probably show that even this game is not as balanced as it might appear after looking at the end of the first two innings. SA have had some bad luck in this game (to make up for the dropped catches) ... as well as a few brainfreezes like Petersons non-review but they've shown the depth to deal with it. flower/strauss tried to ;adapt; by dropping Swann - were criticised, brought him back and he finshes the series having been COMPLETELY outbowled by the much maligned Tahir... with a SR almost triple Tahir's and an AVE almost double!! England are not bad, but how do you drop a captain and spinner who have been so integral to your team's success? not easily ... and England have struggled to carry them this series

  • landsite on August 19, 2012, 20:23 GMT

    England dont have their match winner Pietersen and the two others who could have won the match are out of it,that leaves us with 2 newbies,it looks impossible for England and only rain will save them.Dont expect much from Bairstow this time coz the Saffies have probably worked him out by now,sorry England the number one is now the Saffies and quite rightly so.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on August 19, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    With their catches taken, England would be winning, which is shame for true lovers of cricket as these two sides are so closely matched. For two tests now there's been nothing to chose between the two teams, South Africa have taken all their chances and England have put themselves in this position. England will take being head and shoulders above the likes of India and Australia any day, they sure hung both those pretenders out to dry in the middle of the rankings. This is surely one of the best test matches of the last few years.

  • sonicattack on August 19, 2012, 20:13 GMT

    SA have played marvellously well at crucial moments in the last two tests, which is precisely what England haven't been able to do. I expect SA to win convincingly tomorrow, I'll turn up in front of the TV with hands covering eyes I suspect...@SurlyCynic, Prior has nothing to be ashamed of, Morkel was still completing his shot! Bresnan fr Broad anyone , next time round? Either Broad is injured or unsettled, but his bowling and batting is not good enough at the moment.

  • binojpeter on August 19, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    As far as I can see, 330 from 90 overs with 8 wickets in hand against SA bowling is more than handful for England. They may very well try to play for a draw rather than getting bowled out for a 2-0 loss. In any event, SA has almost ensured their No:1 ranking unless someone plays an innings similar to one played by Mark Butcher in 2001 Ashes series.

  • AnotherCricketFan on August 19, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    I am WAITING for Swann and these hyped up bowlers to be ripped apart by the Indians in their turf. No-name players are going to build their careers based on their tour and cement their place in the Indian team.

  • Yevghenny on August 19, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    Congratulations to South Africa, they have thoroughly outplayed England and have made all us who were getting a bit giddy about England's recent form look a bit silly.

  • on August 19, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    Michael Clarke's team can easily beat this SA team 3-0. Bring back Pat Cummins!

  • ABdareVinniers on August 19, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    @Pratik Behera England beat West Indies in a test series earlier this year.

  • Stark62 on August 19, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    I don't know why people are writing off England because we all know, SA have a long history of choking!!

    SA have been in a similar position many times previously but never quite crossed the finishing line and I won't congratulate them just yet, until day 5 is completely over and Eng didn't score fast enough or until all 10 wickets have been taken.

  • hhillbumper on August 19, 2012, 19:43 GMT

    having watched Trott bat in this series is anyone else hoping he has sent some texts to some south african friends? He does not seem like he knows what to do with this attack and his average has been inflated against some pretty ordinary teams.Or india and Australia as they are more normally called

  • on August 19, 2012, 19:43 GMT

    England, at stumps seem 2b doomed & look like surrendering their no.1 test team crown to SA..... Certainly, SA is a much better team, with Hashim Amla looking 2b the best test batsman & Steyn the best bowler..... England R laggards with a great distance trailing behind & no catching up seemingly possible, with KEVIN PIETERSEN not in the English team (how silly!) ..... It'll b a great achievement, if they can save this test & draw it & save their no.1 test team crown..... Winning this test & squaring up of the series seems to b a pipe dream from here on...... But. still very much impossible things happen on the Cricket fields & V may pray for such a great turnaround happening tomorrow & that's in the womb of future - tomorrow....Let's see what unfolds 2moro.....In the meantime SA has done enough to win the test, the series (2-0) & become new no.1 test team.....

  • citizenkc on August 19, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    There is no shame in losing to this SA team--they are clearly the best test side in the world, excellent in every dept. of the game, other than lacking a spin bowler of high quality. England's bowlers, other than Finn, have been rubbish this series. Their strike rates and averages are horrible. Anderson and Broad are medium pacers who are going to get massacred in India, as is Swann. The future prospects are bleak and I think the Ashes are up for grabs at the moment. I think the series in India, predictably, will result in a lot of runs since both sides are weak in the bowling dept. I expect India will win by a test or two. I know Strauss and Flower are going to spin "positives" out of this series, but they need to be honest. There are none! Bairstow and Taylor have played a couple of good knocks and Finn needs to be permanently on the team, but these are crumbs.

  • on August 19, 2012, 19:39 GMT

    Time for the series against AUS downunder. Let's see how SA fairs against the Aussies.

  • SurlyCynic on August 19, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    If I were Prior I would be embarrassed to claim the 'stumping' of Morkel, given that he had finished his shot and had not overbalanced or left his crease - he then lifted his foot as he walked back to his stance. Not really in the spirit of the game, but we've seen in the past that this 'spirit' goes missing when England are desperate. Guess SA should take it as a compliment that they're doing something right, and the better team will deservedly win the series. If the positions were reversed we would still be hearing the whining!

  • JG2704 on August 19, 2012, 19:21 GMT

    Might as well say it now - congratulations SA for becoming number 1 in the test rankings. Although the 2nd and 3rd tests so far have been fairly even , the 1st test was so dominant they kind of deserved a 2 test advantage from it. Throughout the series we've dropped catches of players who have gone on to make big scores and this has cost us. Smith dropped a dolly yesterday but it was near the end and only cost a few runs.I am disappointed with our mindset too as it seems the side would be happy with the draw from the off with the team selection. Even now we could have gambled and played Bairstow at 3 or 4 or even opened with him. Does it really matter if it goes pear shaped?A draw is no good to us.I like Strauss as a person but he has to go now surely.And I like Flower's discipline/work ethics but don't like his inability to adapt.Australia and WI went on consistently for years with the 6/1/4 formation but I'm sure they'd have changed things had the rot set in like it has with England

  • Cricketolympian on August 19, 2012, 19:21 GMT

    Must say that these two teams have played the best competitive entertaining test cricket since the 2005 Ashes series, both of these teams deserve to be called the worlds best, as both are so mentally strong. England's biggest mistake, dropping Hashim Amla twice when in single figures and he capitalised on both occasions to take the game away from the hosts! Just goes to show catches do win matches! I must also say that it's great to see a packed ground on everyday of this match, wow the British really do love their sport!! For any budding youngsters who want to learn how to play top-level cricket in the future, this is how you do it. And by the way, this just proves that TEST CRICKET IS ALIVE AND WELL for many many years to come!

  • Juiceoftheapple on August 19, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    I'd like to say the match was decided on the two dropped catches, but in reality South Africa are exceptionally good. When you beat us tomorrow you deserve your No.1 spot. Well played, class team, Amla awesome, bowling attack superb. Has been an amazing series, and especially this match with the two bowling attacks going at each other, where each bowler has got as good as he's given. Congratulations SA. We'll be back.

  • Rajeshki on August 19, 2012, 19:10 GMT

    I recall an article written here before the tests began that compared Steyn & Anderson. I hope that the author will be writing a follow-up article.

  • Nutcutlet on August 19, 2012, 19:04 GMT

    This is SA's match, SA's series. The irony is that they have used the England template to get to the top: i.e. Their bowlers work as a unit, the fielding is sharp and the batting's every bit as deep as England's. Tahir is not as economical as Swann, but just as likely to take wickets. Where the two sides differ is in the presence of Kallis, a 4th seamer who can bat a bit! Amla is clearly the best batsman anywhere at the moment. All in all, this is an awesome side who will be fully deserving of the #1 spot. England is not a bad side, just not as good as SA. Looking round the world, who can turn them over? If England can't, then it's highly unlikely that Australia can on recent evidence. I foresee this SA side dominatiing world cricket for the next three or more years. One question does need answering: Graeme Smith will step down fairly soon & presumably AB will become captain. Will he then continue to keep wicket as well? That is an onerous task indeed for a capt & front-line bat.

  • on August 19, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    Now their commentators can eat their own foot. They were too boastful of the english team. Even to an extent that they termed it the best test team ever that was going to rule the world for 10 more yrs.. LoL.. Eventually it turned out they didnt win a single test series after becoming No.1 ..

  • NaniIndCri on August 19, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    After "legendary" Straussy innings and with cook and Trott "Firing" England certain to win.

  • voma on August 19, 2012, 18:39 GMT

    England have played well in this test , but South Africa have been better in every department . Its hard to accept at times ,but throughout the series we have struggled to win the important sessions . Steven Finn was brilliant today , but the other guys struggled against a quality batting line up . Full credit to the SAFFERS , thanx for a tremendous series

  • warneneverchuck on August 19, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    Record created by ENG staying at the top for the shortest period

  • KunzMan on August 19, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    And the timing of SA innings getting over was appropriate. Come tomorrow, with 2 wickets down and on an average 2 wkts falling per session, England should be 5 or 6 down by the time new ball is due. Means 23 overs with new duke which already has created havoc so far. Not difficult to pick up remaining wickets, including tailenders. Will be surprised if England can pull it off with a draw. 55-40-5 for SA win - draw - England win tomorrow

  • njr1330 on August 19, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    Not only will this S.A. side beat us; but if you look at the 'A' team playing in Ireland... they would beat us as well... and then there's Faf du Plessis and Herschelle Gibbs, who aren't in either 11 ! ... and what about Albie Morkel ?

  • KunzMan on August 19, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    And for 5th day, for SA to win, two early wickets with this relatively newer ball will be key. If sun is out then it becomes easier for batting comparatively. That's why getting Bell out quickly will be key for SA as he and then Trott have ability to save matches. Will be fascinating to see how Bairstow and Taylor play with (I assume) the mindset for a Draw. Will England go for the juggle and say number 1 at stake and so go for it? Better to lose 0-2 then not trying? Should be good day tomorrow

  • KunzMan on August 19, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Boy! The moment I posted earlier, Finn bowled a few jaffas to send a few trembles in SA dressing room. Atleast I was concerned, but then JP n Philander mitigated the 'older' new ball with ease.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 19, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    It's curtains for England. They can still bat out the final day for a draw, but victory is unlikely. What a bowling by Philander and Co. !!! World class attack !! I hope they come back tomorrow and finish off England. I like the phrase "dreamers keep dreaming"; so apt for England's situation.

  • The_bowlers_Holding on August 19, 2012, 18:24 GMT

    The game is up, all round a more professional unit an excellent side and worthy winners.

  • on August 19, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    Good test match overall with tight competition right throughout.England lapsed only in the final session.SA demonstrated more than enough that they are the better team and they deserve to be the number one. KP issue was an unwanted one and definitely it would have added more pressure on Andrew Strauss.SA may win tommorow and most likely to retain the spot for a long period of time by the way they are playing.

  • 12thUmpire on August 19, 2012, 18:21 GMT

    England need to win IN ENGLAND under ENGLISH CONDITIONS! They can then preserve their ranking! LOL ! ! :-D)

  • on August 19, 2012, 18:19 GMT

    To all those who said we are chokers....you're living in the last decade. South African cricket is going to reach new heights in the years to follow and our team, at current, is exceptional.

  • on August 19, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    England is good for nothing...when they cant retain the No 1 Ranking at home...its not possible for them to rule the test cricket....

  • on August 19, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    The difference between the teams is that SA always find players that contribute. Philander had an average tour at best but already his contribution seems to be the difference. Nearly 100 runs in the match and already 4 wickets it will take a monumental effort from England to retain their no.1 status. Overall, SA have been the better team in the series and have played the big moments better.

  • aryan_ab on August 19, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    I still believe that England have the batting to overhaul this target and save their no. 1 rankings. Afterall, they are playing at Home !!

  • WalterHP on August 19, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    England heading far south this year

  • on August 19, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    Ominous signs for ENG & Strauss. The writing is on the wall. 14/2 as I write.

  • sk12 on August 19, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    Why is Steyn not bringin the ball in???? he juz keeps movin it out furiously.. and the batsmen coolly leavin it.. probably due to the slope.. if thats the case he definitely needs to switch tmrw..

  • CricketFundas on August 19, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    England can kiss goodbye to the #1 position now. The icing on the cake is that they are going to get walloped at home, and that's where most teams are expected to be strong. Good to see the end of a highly over-rated team! It's all down hill from here my English friends.

  • SoulTaker on August 19, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    So the short span of time at being number 1 by winning "only" matches at home has come to end for Eng...SA was always the better team.....and when u tour Ind it will be like rubbing salt in the wound...waiting for that one eagerly...

  • Unomaas on August 19, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    I think big Vern just won himself a man of the match award with the removal of the POM openers :). I hope Philander gets an opportunity in this innings to show the POM's why he was the second fastest bowler to 50 test wickets!

  • Garp on August 19, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    So why are Cook and Strauss in the side? aren't they suppose to be opening batsmen, they look more like lost children of course they'll lay all the blame on KP, not the fact that England continue to think they can go from holiday sitting around doing nothing to walking onto a cricket field and producing. Even though this tactic for preparing has failed miserable over the last year they still press on with it, oh I forgot the life of a cricketer is so tough that they need every hour off they can get, none of them would last a day in the real world!

  • Indiana_jones99 on August 19, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    England on dire straits. Cook and Strauss gone. score 6/2. England's chances of winning hanging by a thread.

  • JustOUT on August 19, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    Wow...Wow... you proteas beauty.... Vernon you really shut all your bashers.. and especially all those English fans.. your team is good but not as good as Proteas.. What a way to get No.1 ranking.. Wow... So happy

  • FlashAsh on August 19, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    Can we all please remind everyone tarnishing the England bowling attack that they have taken 20 SA wickets and if is wasn't for 24 month exception in Priors keeping ability ability Amla would have scored 2!

    So please lets enjoy the rest of the contest and as its turned out SA aren't worlds better than Eng no matter what the series score line will ultimately be!!

    Good luck YJB on your second knock go at it with the same mindset you usually play with and run rates won't matter!

  • muttydoc on August 19, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    Morkel's dismissal by prior, David Gower in Commentary said dopey cricket!! well, a certain Ian Bell comes to my mind last summer in Trentbridge. That was not called dopey cricket but was called back against the spirit of the game. What an hypocrite?

  • SoulTaker on August 19, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    @Kapil Sharma: Well said

  • AKS286 on August 19, 2012, 17:10 GMT

    AFRICAN DEADLY BARRAGE will defend 346 & they will destroy the Eng batting.

  • Bicazian on August 19, 2012, 17:10 GMT

    Dream start for SA, I do think its a blessing in disguise that they where bowled out

  • Unomaas on August 19, 2012, 17:08 GMT

    3rd time Big Vern has dismissed Cook this series...so...all the Saffa pace men now have their very own special POM bunny :P Morkel = Strausss, Steyn = Trotters, Philander = Cook!

  • Mthimba on August 19, 2012, 17:05 GMT

    Well done Vernon, England you bette start praying...

  • on August 19, 2012, 17:01 GMT

    this could be an interesting one how england will respond to chase the target..do or die situation for england..their no1 status is at stake now..all hopes on top order. with absense of kp it might be difficult for england to win dis.

  • Hira1 on August 19, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    If KP was in the side ...will one be writing off England so soon without a bowl being faced by English batsman in the 2nd innings?

  • Mthimba on August 19, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    SA should be backing themselves. Game on indeed. If England get to 100 have lost only 2 wickets, then they chase a somewhat tired looking bowling attached. Philander has not been great so if England bat sensibly and then they can go down with a fight. mark my words, Trott holds the triumph card, but the England captain must lead from the front, if he chips in with a half ton then SA better watch out. Thrilling contest. Who said test cricket is dead. Thanks Cric info, cant watch cos am at work, but thanks fr keeping me up to date.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 19, 2012, 16:50 GMT

    It was PAINFUL to hear the Sky Sports commentary team. So many excuses were provided for England's inability to play as well as SA in this series. As much as England played bad, they should admire SA's performance. It's curtains for England now. A win for them is improbable, though not impossible. It would have been more likely had the target been 280 or 290. If SA can sneak in 2 wickets tonight, it should hit home the issue. SA have a better bowling attack than England. Only Steve Finn ought to call himself a 'fast' bowler. The rest were miserable.

  • Unomaas on August 19, 2012, 16:41 GMT

    The Poms finally take 20 wickets! Jimmy saves his captain some blushes!

  • Garp on August 19, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    Really evident that Englands medium pace bowlers just aren't good enough to cause the South African batsmen enough of a problem. Match in that no 2 bowlers can bowl well in tandem and you get what we got.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 19, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    All over for England now. Inability to clean up the tail has once again resulted in an unachievable target. If I were Smith, I would declare soon and get a few overs in this evening before close, and undoubtedly pick up a few cheap English wickets. Hats off to SA! Well batted, and a great game regardless of this frustrating loss by England.

  • Bicazian on August 19, 2012, 15:50 GMT

    If you want to win a series and be number 1 you need to be able to take 20 wickets in a match, this seems to be something England really struggles at.

  • Syed_imran_abbas on August 19, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    He is a class act and match winner. His innings is gona be very important for for SA to win like they won in 1st test match.

  • Mthimba on August 19, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    I agree with Kunal, 360 would be fascinated. I think we can easily dispose of Trott, then SA is in the pound seat(pun intended). I would what will England make of missing KP, or is it a non-matter already...

  • on August 19, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    time for honouring yourself will soon be at an end.

  • on August 19, 2012, 15:19 GMT

    best test player currrent

  • jezzastyles on August 19, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    3 wickets remaining with around a 280-run lead as I write this. The Finn double has really turned things around, and it's Game On! England need to limit SA to a 320-run lead, hopefully their bowling can finish off the tail. Then Cook, Strauss, and Trott must get England off to a good start, they can't afford to lose three early wickets in the chase because if the momentum builds for Steyn & Morkel, it'll be game over. If England get away to a good start, the pressure mounts for the SA team, and that "C" word will start to rear its ugly head. There will be a decision in this enthralling match, there's plenty of time left. If England do the unthinkable and win this match, I hope Prior hits the winning runs as he's been their best player. A great contest thus far..

  • wrenx on August 19, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    Harsh on Prior - not taking chances against Amla is a sin, considering he went on to a ton after the chance at 2, but it was a very difficult chance and he made a real go of it. Anderson has been the unmitigated flop of this test. Failed to take a wicket so far in this innings with 6 of the SA top order down, dropping a simple catch, 2 official warnings and acting as unpleasant and grouchy as ever. Onions' 9 wickets in a domestic game must be looking pretty tempting right now.

  • KunzMan on August 19, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    As I write this, Amla has just got out with a lead of about 253 and 142 overs or so to play in the match. I would love to see SA get another 110 in the next 30 or so and give England about 360 kind of target in 110 overs.

  • StJohn on August 19, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    Monty Panesar might have taken more wickets, scored more runs and, more importantly, caught more catches than Anderson has in this series.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 19, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    Toss up between Amla and Steyn to see who gets the Man of the Series award. Poor old Swanny. SA have revealed once and for all that this guy has very little in his arsenal. You'd need an electron microscope to determine if he's getting any turn on the ball. Looks like he's throwing down darts, maybe he should conmsider a career change (before the inevitable axeing after the tour of IND). Commiserations to the Poms - they actually showed some fight in the last 2 tests, but SA are just a far better side. There's no shame in that. Good luck with the much-needed rebuilding; it's a 3-4 year process at best.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 19, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    Amla nearing his hundred, and who do England bring on to bowl? TROTT! Have they totally lost the plot here? Are England suffering from heat-stroke or something? Forget the Pietersen saga... this series will be best remembered for stupid umpiring decisions, stupid bowling tactics by England, poor boring team-choices by England, and of course great cricket by SA that has left England wanting all series.

  • tanstell87 on August 19, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    So here goes the number 1 team...cant pick wickets in their own backyard...eh...India thrice beat Saffers coming from behind....i wanted England to hold onto their number 1 ranking but it is not going to happen....the honeymoon for Pommies is over at the top...now India is waiting for their turn !

  • on August 19, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    Hashim Amla you beauty.on Eid my man at Lords,what a player.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 19, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Amla cruising to another dominant century against the 'best' attack in the world. Compare his innings to that of Bairstow's. Amla's is all class, whereas the Pommy lad had to rely upon a gritty technique and good fortune. Surprised me he got past double-figures, but I expect a return to his tried & tested form in the 2nd dig for ENG. Your kidding yourselves if you think he's a replacement for the champion KP. Anderson is proving a liability in the field, I've lost count of the number of catches he's dropped in this series, but AB must be grinning. Somebody needs to remind him 'catches win matches', but I think he's waving the white flag on a subconscious level. Probably worried about IND. Forget a 320 lead, theyll set ENG at least 400, an impossible target for that misfiring batting lineup, especially against the legitimate best attack in the world. Looks like Swanny will have to dust off that writing pad & get to work on his memoirs in the near future, he's done nuthin all series!!!!

  • Unomaas on August 19, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    Hashim you beauty!!! And this is where Hash is so much better than Kallis...Hash is a man for a crisis! The prevailing sentiment would be for the Saffa's to bat out the innings but I would like us to go for a win. Our reign as the number 1 team should start with the demolition of the previous number 1 ranked team. Would be usurpers of our number 1 ranking should come to fear us!

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  • Unomaas on August 19, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    Hashim you beauty!!! And this is where Hash is so much better than Kallis...Hash is a man for a crisis! The prevailing sentiment would be for the Saffa's to bat out the innings but I would like us to go for a win. Our reign as the number 1 team should start with the demolition of the previous number 1 ranked team. Would be usurpers of our number 1 ranking should come to fear us!

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 19, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Amla cruising to another dominant century against the 'best' attack in the world. Compare his innings to that of Bairstow's. Amla's is all class, whereas the Pommy lad had to rely upon a gritty technique and good fortune. Surprised me he got past double-figures, but I expect a return to his tried & tested form in the 2nd dig for ENG. Your kidding yourselves if you think he's a replacement for the champion KP. Anderson is proving a liability in the field, I've lost count of the number of catches he's dropped in this series, but AB must be grinning. Somebody needs to remind him 'catches win matches', but I think he's waving the white flag on a subconscious level. Probably worried about IND. Forget a 320 lead, theyll set ENG at least 400, an impossible target for that misfiring batting lineup, especially against the legitimate best attack in the world. Looks like Swanny will have to dust off that writing pad & get to work on his memoirs in the near future, he's done nuthin all series!!!!

  • on August 19, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    Hashim Amla you beauty.on Eid my man at Lords,what a player.

  • tanstell87 on August 19, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    So here goes the number 1 team...cant pick wickets in their own backyard...eh...India thrice beat Saffers coming from behind....i wanted England to hold onto their number 1 ranking but it is not going to happen....the honeymoon for Pommies is over at the top...now India is waiting for their turn !

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 19, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    Amla nearing his hundred, and who do England bring on to bowl? TROTT! Have they totally lost the plot here? Are England suffering from heat-stroke or something? Forget the Pietersen saga... this series will be best remembered for stupid umpiring decisions, stupid bowling tactics by England, poor boring team-choices by England, and of course great cricket by SA that has left England wanting all series.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 19, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    Toss up between Amla and Steyn to see who gets the Man of the Series award. Poor old Swanny. SA have revealed once and for all that this guy has very little in his arsenal. You'd need an electron microscope to determine if he's getting any turn on the ball. Looks like he's throwing down darts, maybe he should conmsider a career change (before the inevitable axeing after the tour of IND). Commiserations to the Poms - they actually showed some fight in the last 2 tests, but SA are just a far better side. There's no shame in that. Good luck with the much-needed rebuilding; it's a 3-4 year process at best.

  • StJohn on August 19, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    Monty Panesar might have taken more wickets, scored more runs and, more importantly, caught more catches than Anderson has in this series.

  • KunzMan on August 19, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    As I write this, Amla has just got out with a lead of about 253 and 142 overs or so to play in the match. I would love to see SA get another 110 in the next 30 or so and give England about 360 kind of target in 110 overs.

  • wrenx on August 19, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    Harsh on Prior - not taking chances against Amla is a sin, considering he went on to a ton after the chance at 2, but it was a very difficult chance and he made a real go of it. Anderson has been the unmitigated flop of this test. Failed to take a wicket so far in this innings with 6 of the SA top order down, dropping a simple catch, 2 official warnings and acting as unpleasant and grouchy as ever. Onions' 9 wickets in a domestic game must be looking pretty tempting right now.

  • jezzastyles on August 19, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    3 wickets remaining with around a 280-run lead as I write this. The Finn double has really turned things around, and it's Game On! England need to limit SA to a 320-run lead, hopefully their bowling can finish off the tail. Then Cook, Strauss, and Trott must get England off to a good start, they can't afford to lose three early wickets in the chase because if the momentum builds for Steyn & Morkel, it'll be game over. If England get away to a good start, the pressure mounts for the SA team, and that "C" word will start to rear its ugly head. There will be a decision in this enthralling match, there's plenty of time left. If England do the unthinkable and win this match, I hope Prior hits the winning runs as he's been their best player. A great contest thus far..